Travel agent TUI said it will close 166 of its stores across Ireland the UK due to the impact of Covid-19.
The company said that following a review it plans to streamline its retail estate and will close 166 TUI stores replacing them with a new homeworking sales and service team. The company will retain 350 retail stores.
The company told the Irish Examiner they were not releasing the list of stores as a consultation process was underway and they would not confirm locations until that process was completed.
Covid-19 has wiped out holidays abroad for Europeans for months, and now the threat of a second wave of infections and new restrictions on travel during the usually lucrative summer season are causing more pain in a sector where balance sheets are already strained.
TUI's UK unit was forced to cancel thousands of holidays earlier this week when Britain advised against travel to Spain, bringing back a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals just weeks after saying travel there was safe.
The German-headquartered firm said it is now looking to move 70% of the 900 impacted roles into the new homeworking sales and service team and also aims to relocate retail advisers to vacancies across the remaining high street stores.
He said it was imperative that they make these cost decisions and look after colleagues during a period of unprecedented uncertainty.
TUI Managing Director Andrew Flintham said customer behaviours have already changed in recent years, with 70% of all TUI bookings taking place online. "We believe Covid-19 has only accelerated this change in purchasing habits, with people looking to buy online or wishing to speak with travel experts from the comfort of their own home."
"We have world-class travel advisors at TUI, so we hope many of them will become homeworkers and continue to offer the personalised service we know our customers' value.”
In May, the TUI Group had announced that it was to reduce overhead costs globally by 30%, with approximately 8,000 roles impacted, and would seek to accelerate its path to become more efficient and continue with its programme of digitalisation.