John Lewis deal not about taking business from agents, says Kuoni

with John Lewis will not change its relationship with independent third-party travel agents, managing director Derek Jones has confirmed.

The tour operator and retailer has revealed it is to open four shops within John Lewis department stores in London’s Oxford Street; Cardiff; Southampton and Reading.

Jones said it has witnessed “double digit” growth through independent agents since removing its online discount from its consumer website last October while its online direct sales have decreased, although they remain a “sizeable chunk” of distribution.

Revenues lost online have “migrated” offline to the operator’s other sales channels, he said.

Jones said: “We have worked really hard to keep our support for independent agents. This deal has not changed that at all. It is not about taking customers away from local agents.”

Kuoni has always maintained that where it has opened new shops it has enjoyed extra sales and has not taken away sales from existing retailers in the area, and Jones says this will remain the case.

Jones said the operator may still increase the number its dual-branded shops further in future despite the John Lewis deal. It currently partners with six independent travel companies, which are targeted with selling £1 million Kuoni product within three years.

“The reality is that there is not an infinite number of agents that fit the bill but I do still think there is a reasonable, significant number still to go for,” said Jones.

Dual-branded stores were “well on track” to meet their targ