A TRAVEL agent with stores in York to close 166 high street stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Tui is the UK’s biggest tour operator and has said it has made the decision following changes in customer behaviour.

It plans to move 70% of the 900 affected jobs to a new “homeworking sales and service team”. Tui has shops in Parliament Street in York and also at Vangarde as well as a store in Selby.

Tui also aims to relocate staff to vacancies in the remaining 350 retail stores. It's not yet known which stores will be affected.

The firm announced in May that it planned to cut around 8,000 jobs globally as it seeks to reduce overhead costs by 30%.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland, said: “We want to be in the best position to provide excellent customer service, whether it’s in a high street store, over the telephone or online, and will continue to put the customer at the heart of what we do.

“It is therefore imperative that we make these difficult cost decisions, look after our colleagues during such unprecedented uncertainty and also offer a modern customer service.

“Customer behaviours have already changed in recent years, with 70% of all Tui UK bookings taking place online.

“We believe Covid-19 has only accelerated this change in purchasing habits, with people looking to buy online or wishing to speak with travel experts from the comfort of their own home.

“We have world-class travel advisers at Tui, so we hope many of them will become homeworkers and continue to offer the personalised service we know our customers value.”