Your Co-op Travel is exploring opportunities with “one or two” non-travel retailers as it looks to grow its retail estate next year in partnership with other well-known brands.
The discussions come as the group reveals it will convert a further three branches to its new interactive and sustainable format early next year. Last week it officially launched its second branch with the new design in Lydney, Gloucestershire.
Head of omnichannel development Ellis Cain-Jones said the group was open to exploring new partnerships with companies in 2024.
Cain-Jones would not reveal whether concessions in other retailers were being considered – a move which would mirror that of travel brands such as Kuoni, which has outlets in John Lewis, and Virgin Holidays’ outlets in Next stores.
Any new openings would be in the Midlands region that Co-op Travel, the travel retail division of The Midcounties Co‑operative, already operates in, he said, and would be data‑driven, depending on footfall.
Cain-Jones said: “We are keen to explore some of the less obvious opportunities. We are really keen to have partnerships and we are talking to one or two for 2024. Some may be well-known brands.”
We are keen to have [retail] partnerships and we are talking to one or two – some may be well-known brands
The group is already testing out new formats for its existing 71-branch network. The newly designed stores in Sutton Coldfield and Lydney – both in relocated locations within their towns – have travel ‘hubs’ with digital, interactive touchscreens, including maps, and highlight work with local charities.
The Sutton Coldfield store is reported to already be recording a “significant increase” in sales.
Cain-Jones said: “We’ve already had learnings from our Sutton Coldfield store. We know people are loving that store and we’re looking forward to taking the things that work to three more shops.
“We’re looking at augmented reality. Depending on locations, we will test new things in other locations.”
The aim is to create stores that inspire clients of all ages and are “interactive, sustainable and modern”, according to Cain-Jones.
“It’s about adapting stores and making sure we have the right formats longer term,” he said.
“Sustainability is at the heart of it. We want really inspiring content, while embedding the things we do for community fundraising and talking about our sustainable projects.”
He added he was confident the new format and focus on sustainability would attract more young clients.
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