Radstock Co-operative Society has expanded its travel agency operation by opening its second branch in Paulton.
The society says the new branch is testament to a busy year which saw “lots more customers returning to the traditional travel agent for help rather than scrolling the internet in vain”.
Radstock opened the new branch next to its convenience store in the Hill Court precinct, which the society owns, along with the residential flats above the shops.
The convenience store itself is in a unit previously occupied by Co-op Group until the expiry of the lease. When Radstock opened its own store there it traded well, so the society decided to open a travel agency when an adjoining unit became vacant.
A society spokesperson said: “With a minimum investment we felt that we could utilise the unit and bring in some additional income for the society.
“We wanted to ensure that we maintained the vibrancy of the local shopping centre that provides a range of services to the local community, which could have been impacted by an empty unit signifying a downward trend in the need or provision of local retail/ services.
“Paulton did not have a travel agency so we are now able to provide the local residents with another service and also save them travelling to the nearest town of Midsomer Norton, which a decade ago had five travel agencies but now only has one. So we saw a gap in the market and trade so far has been very encouraging.”
The society’s main Travel branch in Radstock has seen a recent uplift in sales by 15% since October.
Since opening the Paulton Travel shop in March, Radstock has increased its Travel staffing levels by 50% and now has four full-time and two part-time colleagues.
Colin Curtis is dual manager of both stores and has been working in the travel industry since leaving school over 21 years ago, joining Radstock Co-operative Travel 18 years ago.
The society added: “The traditional travel agency has recently since a return of many customers who had previously booked on the internet. Many are finding the same or better deals can be booked by a travel professional and giving them peace of mind at the same time too.”