A TRAVEL agent has vowed to do all it can to support staff after confirming the closure of a Tyne Valley branch.

The shutters were already down at the Prudhoe outlet, on Front Street, with staff working from home during lockdown.

But now the firm has confirmed that the lease will not be renewed on the premises.

A Hays Travel spokeswoman said: “All efforts will be made to find alternative options for work within Hays Travel for the staff.

“The priority is to continue to look after our customers and they can stay in contact by phone or email to arrange a virtual meeting by Zoom, Facetime or Skype.”

The travel industry has suffered during the coronavirus pandemic and Hays Travel said the decision was made on the Prudhoe branch following a review.

The spokeswoman added: “The third national lockdown and travel ban leading to major holiday operators suspending flights and holidays, meant the company had to act.

“Staff will be offered the chance to join the Hays Travel Homeworking Division, to work from home, or take positions in other shops where there is a vacancy.”

Hays Travel currently operates 535 shops and employs 7,700 people. It retains branches in Hexham and at the Metrocentre.

Hays Travel took on the Prudhoe branch in 2019, after agreeing to take over 555 Thomas Cook retail outlets following its collapse.

Last November, the Sunderland-based company suffered the tragic loss of its founder, John Hays, who died suddenly at the age of 71.

The spokeswoman added: “During the lockdown, many staff are currently working from home, taking bookings for holidays for 2021 and beyond, offering the Hays Travel Peace of Mind Guarantee which allows customers to cancel or rebook for any reason up to six weeks before departure.”

Coun. Gordon Stewart, who represents Prudhoe South on Northumberland County Council, said he had written to Hays Travel asking the firm to review its decision.

He added: “This has come as a blow not just for the staff but for the many loyal customers. The family run company has suffered badly over the last year, not just due to the pandemic but also the sad and sudden death of its founder John Hays.

“I have written to the company to ask if their decision could be reviewed, and I am also in contact with the Job Centre Plus team to see if their support could be given in some way for the staff.

“Hays travel has a reputation of being a caring employer and supporters of the community.”