Althams reveals expansion plans as it opens thirty-third shop

Althams Travel plans to open two more high street stores this year and grow its homeworking division to up to 40 agents by 2026.

Managing director Sandra McAllister said the nation’s oldest high street agency aimed to expand “strategically” while retaining its family feel.

It has just officially opened its 33rd shop, in Wetherby, and currently has eight homeworkers working remotely in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Lincolnshire.

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The homeworkers comprise a core of salaried agents, including former shop managers, ensuring calls are answered when shops are shut, and self-employed agents working on commission‑only at hours to suit them.

Speaking at the agency’s Anniversary Ball to celebrate 150 years in business, McAllister, managing director since 2018, said the group planned substantial growth of its self-employed homeworkers.

“This is what we want to grow, but if we need more salaried homeworkers then we will expand that too,” she said, adding: “I would say 30 to 40 homeworkers would be a manageable number in the next couple of years.”

McAllister has previously outlined plans to grow the shop network to 40 branches.

“We will still have that family feel and know everybody,” she said, adding the agency would continue to look for premises within a 10-mile radius of existing branches.

She added: “We look for good market towns where we would sit well and our name is known. I don’t want to tread on the toes of another independent agent. I am hoping for another couple this year and more next year.” Most branches are owned, but some are leased and the company has its own shopfitting department to furnish stores in the company’s style.

McAllister said she saw no reason why agents would not retain their high street presence.

“Agents still have a long future on the high street if we give excellent customer service,” she said.

“You’ll never take away the ‘want’ to travel; we just have to make sure we give people a reason to book with us.”

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