AIRTOURS, the package holiday group, is to close 120 of its smaller loss-making shops as more of its customers switch to booking vacations over the telephone and the Internet.
The group said that it was cutting the number of high street shops trading under the Going Places and Travelworld brands to 720 branches to reflect the shift in trends. Last year one in four Airtours customers booked holidays using the telephone or the Web.
The closures will lead to 550 job losses and a one-off exceptional charge of about £15 million this year.
Richard Carrick, chief executive, said that while the decision reflected an increasing trend, Airtours would continue to invest in out-of-town sites. “We don’t shop in the areas we used to, or at the time of day that we did.” Shares in Airtours, which hit a 12-month low of 190p in November after it reported a 30 per cent drop in pre-tax profits, fell 5.75p to close at 285p.