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Barrhead Travel flies into Brexit headwinds


Commenting on the results, chief executive Sharon Munro said she was “delighted” with the performance.

“Despite the continuing challenging economic climate and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit we have seen both excellent growth and performance in 2016 resulting in a record sales year for the company and continued healthy operating profits,” she said.

Barrhead Travel’s top-selling destinations in 2016 were Costa Blanca, Lanzarote, Palma, Tenerife and Orlando, with Florida emerging as the most popular long-haul destination.

The company also saw significant year-on-year increases in travellers to Cuba up 76 per cent, New York up 49 per cent and Thailand up 48 per cent.

Travel to the Costa Dorada was up 34 per cent, while Calgary in Canada was up 29 per cent.

Ms Munro said terrorism on the Continent had not impacted bookings. “Holidaymakers are resilient, they are still avidly travelling across Europe,” she said.

She said sales were boosted by the company’s expansion in England, which helped 300,000 customers book with Barrhead in 2016.

Barrhead Travel, which was founded by Bill Munro in 1975 and now has more than 1,000 staff, opened a flagship branch in Newcastle last year. A store in Leicester followed this year, and Ms Munro has previously signalled expansion into England as key to the company’s growth plans.

The Newcastle store is one of a new generation, more heavily focused on using technology to improve the service offered to customers. Barrhead said £500,000 was invested in the store.

A further £350,000 was invested in improving customer-facing technology in 2016 and customers will soon be able to view images and videos of resorts through new multimedia desks, and even be virtually immersed in their destination through the use of VR (virtual reality) headsets.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also being introduced into stores and online to help sales consultants answer questions.

Barrhead’s accounts also reference a significant investment in the development of its new training academy, located in Glasgow city centre.

The company said that its homeworking and franchise division, Brilliant Travel, which is aimed at freelance travel agents continued to grow in an “increasingly competitive marketplace”.

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