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Virgin Holidays is to open three shops in the north of England as it steps up expansion in the region.

The move follows the opening of its second V-Room?lounge, at Manchester airport, last week.

The operator is to open agencies in House of Fraser stores in Chester, Warrington and Darlington by the end of October.

These will be joined by more Virgin Holidays concessions within?Tesco stores.

Managing director Amanda Wills revealed the plans as she opened the V-Room at Manchester airport, where the operator handles 100,000 customers a year.

“We are not as well known in the north, but we are changing that and raising awareness,” she said. “This is all part of our massive investment in the north of England and Scotland.”

She said shops in the north of the country would soon be given product “specifically geared to Manchester departures”, and third-party agents in the north would also have access to the product online.

Wills added: “Manchester is a big growth area for us – to Barbados, Vegas and Orlando, as well as to the Middle East, Dubai and Asia, flying on carriers such as Qatar and Emirates – not just Virgin Atlantic.”

She pointed out that all Virgin Holidays customers, not just those flying on Virgin Atlantic, could pay to gain access to the operator’s V-Rooms in Manchester and Gatwick.

Of the 300,000 Virgin customers who use? Gatwick each year, 60,000 use the V-Room.

Wills added that “business cases” were being put together to open V-Rooms at Orlando and Barbados airports.

The operator is also planning more pop-up stores in key booking months, similar to those it has set up in Dorking and Westfield shopping centre, London.

“I really believe that when times are tough, it’s the companies that go the extra mile for their customers who will come out ok on the other side,