TRAVEL giant TUI is closing 166 stores in another blow for the industry, impacting 900 staff.

Managing director Andrew Flintham said the “difficult” decision was made due to more customers booking holidays online – a change accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

But he said 70 per cent of the 900 workers affected will be moved into a new sales and service team working from home.

The firm also said it aims to relocate retail advisers to its other High Streets stores.

“We want to be in the best position to provide excellent customer service, whether it’s in a high street store, over the telephone or online, and will continue to put the customer at the heart of what we do,” said director Mr Flintham.

The Argus: The move will affect 900 jobsThe move will affect 900 jobs

“It is therefore imperative that we make these difficult cost decisions, look after our colleagues during such unprecedented uncertainty and also offer a modern customer service.

“Customer behaviours have already changed in recent years, with 70 per cent of all TUI UK 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 advisers at TUI, so we hope many of them will become homeworkers and continue to offer the personalised service we know our customers value.”

The move will affect 166 TUI stores in the UK and Ireland.

The travel giant has a number of stores in Sussex, most of which remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Only its stores in North Street, Brighton, and The Martletts, Crawley are currently open for business.

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