Flight Centre Travel Group today announced it will close up to 100 “under-performing stores” and withdrew its profit forecast due to the uncertain impact of coronavirus, which is now hitting bookings hard.

It will also reduce trading hours in some leisure shops, expand flexible work arrangements for staff and introduce a recruitment freeze.

“As part of FLT’S transformation plans and in light of the challenging cycle, the company will accelerate its network rightsizing program and reduce its traditional leisure footprint in Australia over the next few months,” the company said in a statement.

“Up to 100 under-performing leisure shops in Australia are likely to close before June 30, with staff to be redeployed to fill existing vacancies in shops nearby.”

MD Graham Turner said: “While people are still booking travel – in February our TTV actually increased slightly globally compared to the same month last year – we are now seeing significant softening and expect this to continue to April at least.

“Our priorities are to reduce costs while also ensuring that we and our people are ready to capitalise when the steep discounting  underway across most categories starts to gain traction as  the trading cycle rebounds.

“As we saw with both SARS and the GFC in Australia, the rebound can be relatively fast and strong after a fairly significant downturn in international travel.

“In the near-term we will proactively seek to win leisure market-share by investing in sales and marketing – at a time when some of our competitors may be forced to pull back – to increase our share of voice.”

Turner said it would promote destinations considered to be lower risk such as Australian domestic and South Pacific holidays.”

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