10 JUL 2012: Steve Endacott CEO of On Holiday Group in the UK, predicts that incoming Thomas Cook boss Harriet Green will cut the group’s existing ‘shops’ from 1,200 to 400 within the next five years. He says however, that this could prove a massive opportunity for independents and home based agents.
Endicott said in his blog, “Harriet Green, the new CEO of Thomas Cook, comes from a background of modernization, using the internet as a key distribution platform to cut costs.
“I therefore think she will take a hatchet to Thomas Cook’s 1,200 shops, cutting them to less than 400 over the next five years, as she maximizes the benefit of the massively strong Thomas Cook brand online.”
His blog comes after a consumer report by Mintel found that seven in ten people who took a holiday in the last year booked entirely online.
Endacott’s own On Holiday Group business is positioned to have a strong online presence, supported by call centres, “without a high street shop in sight.”
He says however, that he has never predicted the death of High Street shops and believes independent high street agents could be in a strong position once the major operators have decimated their current overweight shop networks.”
He believes the big two in the UK – Thomson and Thomas Cook – will continue cut shops as internet sales grow, either naturally or more rapidly if they drive the channel.
“This cutback provides a massive opportunity for independent high street shops or homeworkers if they evolve slightly,” said Endacott.
“They are best positioned to offer customer independent advice on the whole travel market.”
He advocates having a shop which is a central point for a local network of home based agents.
“Each homeworker would be rotated between staffing the shops, where they would deal with personal appointments or walk-in enquiries, and offsite work such as house visits or out-of-hours phone support,” he said.
It’s a scenario that could work anywhere.