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Barrhead Travel plans 80 jobs to support growth

BARRHEAD Travel will increase its workforce to more than 800 in coming months, with the creation of 80 posts to support its high street and online expansion.

GOOD NEWS: Chief executive Sharon Munro believes the economic backdrop is improving. Picture: Colin Mearns
GOOD NEWS: Chief executive Sharon Munro believes the economic backdrop is improving. Picture: Colin Mearns

The Glasgow-based travel company, which already employs more than 750 people and operates from 55 locations across the UK, revealed its latest recruitment plans yesterday.

Sharon Munro, chief executive of Barrhead Travel and the company's majority shareholder, said it also planned to take on about a further 90 modern apprentices over the coming year, in addition to the latest recruitment drive.

Ms Munro believed the economic backdrop was improving. However, she cited Barrhead Travel's resilience throughout the protracted downturn and attributed some of her company's success to Glasgow's wet climate.

She also voiced a belief that the prevailing long-hours culture in the UK made holidays a necessity.

A spokesman for Barrhead Travel said the 80 new positions being created represented an investment of more than £1.5 million-a-year in terms of staff costs. The roles will be a mixture of full and part-time posts.

Of the 80 posts, Barrhead Travel said about 50 would be created in the west of Scotland. Most of these 50 positions will be at the company's Glasgow head office.

The company, which has diversified beyond its traditional travel agency roots and now also offers its own charter flights to popular holiday destinations in Spain and Italy from Scottish airports, said it was creating jobs within its sales, marketing, information technology, and human resources teams, among others.

Barrhead Travel said it would be creating about 20 jobs in Edinburgh and the east coast, with a further 10 staff being recruited in the north, including Aberdeen.

As well as selling its own charter flights, Barrhead Travel is one of the UK's biggest retailers of cruise holidays. It also specialises in skiing holidays and in travel to Canada, and has built up a sizeable long-haul business.

Last September, Barrhead Travel announced that it had achieved turnover of £155.7m in 2012, up 20.8% on the previous year. It made gross profit of £18.2m in 2012, up by 20.4% on 2011.

Asked about the factors behind Barrhead Travel's continuing growth, Ms Munro replied: "I think there has been a switch back to shops, certainly for us, for our business. People get a service they trust."

However, she also highlighted continuing growth in Barrhead Travel's online business.

Ms Munro also cited the fact that Barrhead specialised in ski holidays, cruises, and Canadian and other long-haul travel.

Contemplating the economic backdrop, she said: "Everyone keeps talking about these green shoots. I think people are definitely more confident. I think there are definitely signs of improvement out there. Houses are selling better, and in Glasgow it rains a lot, which is good for us."

Ms Munro added: "I think holidays are a necessity these days. I think people work so hard, and such long hours."

Barrhead Travel will, in May, start charter flights for the summer season between Edinburgh and Palma in Majorca.

It already offers charter flights in the summer season from Glasgow to Venice, Palma, Malaga, and Barcelona. It also offers charter flights, in summer, from Aberdeen to Malaga and Palma.

Asked about the timescale for filling the 80 new posts, Ms Munro replied: "We are recruiting heavily now - just as quickly as we can recruit. These vacancies are available now."

She added: "Being in a financially-stable position to create 80 new jobs across the country, given the economy in recent years, is something we're immensely proud of."

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