Midcounties Co-op Travel has become the first major travel company to brand its shops with its website address.
As part of a trial, four shops will have the branding within the next three months. The first is its new shop in Shrewsbury, which opened on Saturday, creating eight jobs.
Three more shops, set to open before Christmas in Derby, Nottingham and Leamington Spa, will sport the new branding. The shops are also being refurbished inside with a “radical” new look.
If the web branding is a success, the group will roll it out across its 54-shop retail network, replacing the distinctive orange branding of The Co‑operative Travel.
The Co‑operative Travel and Midlands Co-op entered a joint venture with Thomas Cook a year ago, while Midcounties retained its independence. Group general manager Alistair Rowland feels the decision to put the web address on shopfronts is a “bold move”.
“I don’t know of any other retailer that has used its web address on a shopfront like this,” he said.“We will try it on these four shops to see if it changes the dynamics of the customer base.”
Midcounties has already tested the name on three travel shops attached to its food stores.
“It’s not had any negative effect, but the standalone high street stores will be the ultimate test,” said Rowland. “It is without doubt the stronger brand.”
Rebranding of its other shops will “probably” follow by the end of the year, although newly‑acquired eight-shop independent agency Travel Angels will retain its own brand name.
The rebrand is designed to embrace multi-channel distribution and differentiate it from rival The Co-operative Travel.
“What better advert than your shopfront?” said Rowland, who added: “We no longer want to be connected [to The Co-operative Travel]. We want to be seen as an independent business.”
The rebranded shops should also feel different following an internal refurbishment to make them “lighter and brighter”. They feature live holiday deals on screens and will also show, for example, how many online customers have looked at specific offers that day.