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Hays Travel closing Kent branches in Sevenoaks and Gravesend

The UK's largest travel agency has announced it is closing two of its Kent stores.

Hays Travel, which has more than 530 outlets across the country, says its branches in Sevenoaks and Gravesend are among 89 it plans to shut nationally.

Hays Travel is closing 89 branches, including two in Kent
Hays Travel is closing 89 branches, including two in Kent

The firm has been operating for 40 years, and in 2019 bought the entire retail portfolio of travel agency Thomas Cook, doubling its workforce and trebling its shop numbers.

But following a third national lockdown and a travel ban leading to major holiday operators suspending flights and holidays, it has decided not to renew the leases on 89 of its shops.

It is offering options for alternative work to 388 staff that will be affected by the move - including the chance to work from home, or take positions in other shops.

While its Sevenoaks and Gravesend branches have been confirmed as among those set to shut, Hays Travel says the majority of its Kent stores will remain open for now.

This includes branches in Ashford, Canterbury, Whitstable, Deal, Sittingbourne, Sheerness, Orpington and Bexleyheath, along with those in shopping centres including Hempstead Valley in Gillingham, Bluewater in Greenhithe, Chequers Shopping Centre in Maidstone, and Westwood Cross in Thanet.

CEO Jonathon Woodall said: “Our first priority is to continue to look after our customers and we offer the highest standards of customer service through our retail, phone and online divisions.

"We are continuing with our robust two-year business plan and continue to be ready for the bounce back when it comes.”

Dame Irene Hays, owner and chair of Hays Travel, added: “It was always our intention to review the performance of our shops at the end of the licence period - we had hoped the business would bounce back in January and it has not.

"We have done everything we could to safeguard jobs and the business thus far, and we have come up with a range of options for those at risk of redundancy to help as many colleagues as we can.”

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend

Read more: All the latest news from Sevenoaks

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