BARRHEAD Travel has announced 20 of its planned 100 new stores will open by March, with 75 staff already hired.

Jacqueline Dobson, company president, accelerated the group’s expansion plans after the collapse of Thomas Cook.

The first seven - Liverpool, Widnes, Wallasey, Burnley, Isle of Wight, Northwich and Warrington – are expected to open ahead of peak trading in January.

READ MORE: Barrhead Travel to open 100 stores and take on former Thomas Cook staff

Speaking at their annual partner conference in Ayrshire, she said: “We do believe the high street has a future and is very much alive.

“We are focussing on world-class customer service complemented by innovation and investment in digital.”

Ms Dobson said the 75 new hires played a critical role in selecting the new stores.

She said: “When we move into new locations across the country, we want to empower our new managers to let them drive their own marketing strategy.

“They’ve also been fundamental in helping choose locations – after all, they know their local communities better than anyone and their input in premises selection is crucial.”

READ MORE: Travel firm looks to hire former Thomas Cook staff

The company, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Travel Leaders Group, earlier announced its plan to open as many as 100 Barrhead-branded stores in the UK and hire former Thomas Cook employees after the collapse of the travel firm.

Barrhead Travel has over 80 outlets across the UK. Last year revenues rose from £300 million to £320m on the back of increased sales of solo holidays, adventure travel, cruising and touring.

The group predicts its 2019 turnover to hit £329m with a £1.5m IT investment due to land in 2020 to support a state-of-the-art telephone system and new hardware across the business.

READ MORE: New Barrhead owner commits to English expansion

The business has also appointed a group head of people development, Andrew McAulay, who plans to re-energise the training offering and spearhead training investment projects.

Since it was founded in 1975, the award-winning Barrhead Travel has expanded to a multi-faceted travel group chartering its own flights, offering bespoke holidays to all corners of the globe, running an in-house training facility, employing specialist consultants providing expert advice in a range of areas.