Braunton Travel to open third store after record-breaking month

Braunton Travel owner Sue Hunter is preparing to open a third store in North Devon and recently celebrated a record-breaking month.

Hunter, whose business is a member of Hays Travel Independence Group, plans to introduce Barnstaple Travel in late June or early July.

It comes six years after she opened Bideford Travel and a decade after her original shop was established.

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Looking forward to opening a third branch, Hunter said: “I’ll be running the biggest travel agency in the North Devon area, so it’s good to be creating jobs for people and trying to ensure we have quality service for the people of North Devon.”

The Barnstaple store will be located in an area of high football, said Hunter, as Gammon Walk serves as a route to the high street.

“Although it’s not on the high street, we’ll have good visibility,” said Hunter. “There were a few other locations we looked at in Barnstaple, but they weren’t in the right location for the business.”

Hunter said she had been interested in expanding into Barnstaple since the closure of the Destination Lounge store during the pandemic.

“Because there is only one independent agency and a Tui in Barnstaple, there is ample opportunity for another independent to come in,” said Hunter.

She expects the new shop will sell a wide range of holidays, but noted high-value and ‘bucket list’ bookings had become more frequent of late.

“There’s an element of people saying, ‘If we don’t do this now, we might not be fit enough to do it next year’,” Hunter said.

She added that peaks this year had gone “very well”, with February being the Braunton branch’s best month in its history.

The sales figure was boosted by a £40,000 Antarctica cruise booking with Viking towards the end of the month.

Outlining her ambitions for the Barnstaple shop, Hunter said: “I’m hoping it will be busier than we are in Braunton. It should be, because there will be more staff and more visibility.”

She added that it would take some time to build up the business, but she hopes people will take an interest in the new offering in the town.

“We’ll look after our customers and find the best holiday possible that’s going to suit their needs,” said Hunter, who plans to employ four in the new store.

The Braunton branch has two staff including Hunter, while the Bideford store has three (one of whom is currently on maternity leave).

During the Hays Travel IG conference in Leeds on March 5, Braunton Travel was recognised as having the biggest increase in margin among members.

Picture: Braunton Travel owner Sue Hunter (right) receives the ‘best increase in margin’ award at the Hays Travel IG conference in Leeds in March 2024.

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