Sunderland’s Hays Travel jets off with top title

(from left) host Stephen Mulhern; Lindsay Garvey-Jones, from sponsor Holiday Extras; John Hays, and Lucy Huxley.
(from left) host Stephen Mulhern; Lindsay Garvey-Jones, from sponsor Holiday Extras; John Hays, and Lucy Huxley.
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Hays Travel has flown off with the title of best of British.

The Sunderland-based firm has been recognised as the best high street travel agent in the country.

The award is proof that if you have the right staff and the right product then it can work.

John Hays

Hays Travel won the High Street Large Agency category at the Agent Achievement Awards, hosted by Travel Weekly.

The Agent Achievement Awards are the biggest celebration of the travel trade in the UK, with 850 people attending this year’s glitzy presentation ceremony at London’s Park Plaza Westminster hotel.

Managing director of Hays Travel, John Hays, collected the trophy.

“It’s a real honour to win this award,” said a delighted John.

“We have won regional awards before but never the national.

“Just to be nominated alongside big names like Thomas Cook and Thomson is a thrill.”

The company had been through an exciting period of expansion, he said.

“We’ve been growing quite rapidly over the last few years, both by opening new shops and through acquisitions.

“We’re trading very well – we wouldn’t be opening new stores if we weren’t.

“We have 150 shops and plans for more.”

And he paid tribute to the Hays Travel team who had made the award win possible.

“The award is proof that if you have the right staff and the right product then it can work,” he said..

“The key is staff.

“They are everything and I’m especially proud of them.”

Lucy Huxley, Travel Weekly editor in chief, said: “The Travel Weekly Agent Achievement Awards continue to be the absolute pinnacle of excellence for the UK travel trade.”

John Hays started the firm from the backroom of his mum’s childrenswear shop in Seaham and has seen it grow to become Sunderland City Centre’s biggest employer.

Today, Hays has 150 shops and over a thousand employees, sales of more than £800million, and is in the Sunday Times’ Best 100 Companies to Work For in the UK.

John himself picked up the Lifetime Achievement trophy at the Echo’s Portfolio awards in 2014.