The Co-operative Group owns and operates 400 high street travel agents under the Co-op Travel identity, employing some 2,200 staff. Co-op Travel offers a very wide range of UK and overseas holidays, worldwide flights and cruises, coach breaks and city breaks. As part of its service it also sells travel insurance, airport parking, travel money/foreign exchange and Western Union money transfers.
Trevor Davis is the organisation’s Director of Retail Distribution: “For as long as I can remember, we have been offering Western Union to our customers. We offer a full service of Western Union products, and this has helped us to build a strong repeat customer base for the product.”
Co-op Travel’s customers are loyal, primarily 50 plus. A growing number are Co-operative members, says Trevor, “so whenever they use their Membership Card in any of our stores for purchasing goods and services, they are rewarded twice a year with a share of the Group’s dividend. The Western Union partnership allows us to extend the range of travel-related services that we offer, which, in many cases, is broader and better than many of our high street competitors.
“Customers from a wide background of age, race and diversity now use the Co-operative Travel because we offer Western Union,” Trevor continues. “Had we not offered this service, our customer base would not have been as wide and as varied as it is.”
CASH GENERATOR LTD
“We sell quality pre-owned products through a secure, instant, convenient and personal service as well as offering a range of financial services. Our customers want no-nonsense products that are easy to understand and give them the cash they need quickly.
Offering Western Union requires minimal investment which is a big plus for a franchise business and they are a global brand with a strong reputation which customers trust and rely on. They also provide a range of marketing and support services which helps to promote the service, so that helps generate interest and awareness, bringing customers into our shops who may well be tempted to pick up a bargain while they’re there.”
Julian Urry, Managing Director, Cash Generator.
KANOO FOREIGN EXCHANGE
“Kanoo is the largest travel company in the Middle East operating out of 180 offices throughout the region. More recently we’ve expanded into the UK with the purchase of the American Express retail travel and foreign exchange network, comprising of 26 outlets across the UK, continuing with Western Union was a logical decision as our customers appreciate the service and value.
Our customers travel either into the UK or across the globe out of the UK, being able to send money back home or have it sent to the UK remains very important to many of them. Banking arrangements can often be complex and take too much time, but the Western Union service is simple and the network of agents is extensive
Rob Dacey, UK Foreign Exchange Services Manager, Kanoo.
NATIONAL CASH ADVANCE
“Our objective is to offer a quick, hassle-free solution to the thousands of people who don’t have access to traditional banking services and are looking for loans that offer a sensible alternative to credit card late payment penalty charges and bank overdraft charges.
Through our branches we provide one-on-one assistance to customers to give them a simple cash advance. Being able to offer Western Union money transfer gives customers an alternative way to either receive cash from friends and family or to send money. It’s a good service that complements our other business activities well and is popular with visitors from overseas who are working in the UK.”
Blair Biggerstaff, Managing Director, National Cash Advance.
“Our customers are looking for service and convenience more than anything else and its testament to our ability to deliver that we have been growing so rapidly over the past few years. Foreign Exchange is our core business and we now have over 310 branches worldwide including a presence at 65 airports.
Western Union money transfer plugs into our bureau de change network offering and gives the customer another reason for using ICE. It’s simple and quick which is ideal for travellers who are often pushed for time and need to get money to someone quickly or need to pick up cash so they can continue with their travels. Western Union’s global network and speed of service makes them a valuable business partner.”
Maria Birch, General Manager, ICE Plc.
“My brother-in-law put me on to the idea of becoming a western union® agent, so I have him to thank! I was a bit dubious about it at first, but when it was explained to me I realised there could be a lot of potential business in our area with such a large Afro-Caribbean community. What surprised us was we got more new business to start with from their friends and relatives abroad telling them to come to us.
Business grew very quickly and after about three years we set up a separate counter so people didn’t have to queue up behind customers collecting their prescriptions. Having a western union® service also boosts our other business as people pick up their prescriptions at the same time, buy a few items or drop of their holiday photos for processing.”
I became a western union® agent about 10 years ago. I realised at the time that the only way forward for my type of business was to offer extra services as the traditional confectionery, tobacco and newspaper business wasn’t going to bring enough footflow and revenue into the shop.
There have been a lot of new competitors coming into the market recently trying to tempt me, but they just don’t have the agency network that western union® do and the reliability.
What I like about it is a lot of the money people send from my shop helps the community back home…. for farming… to buy crops… to get medicines for their relatives.
Mr Patel, Yogi News.
“Like Western Union, the Midlands Co-op has a long history and we are proud of our heritage and our reputation for good service. We’re one of the UK’s largest independent travel agents and we have 103 travel shops throughout the Midlands all offering money transfer.
We took on the Western Union money transfer service because we were looking to expand our range of travel related services. It required little investment and it helps to bring in customers, particularly amongst the migrant population who may never have visited one of our shops before. While they’re here it gives our people the opportunity to cross-sell other services like flights, holidays and travel insurance.”
David Haywood, Foreign Exchange Manager, Midlands Co-Op.
“The ease of travel with low cost flights and the opening up of the EU and many other countries around the world has brought massive growth in the number of people travelling for either business or pleasure. Our retail business has grown on the back of demand for foreign currency and other ancillary products like Western Union money transfer.
For a customer to be able to stop at one of our shops and send money to someone else anywhere in the world in a matter of a few minutes is a powerful proposition. The Western Union service is easy to use and because of its global reach and strong reputation many visitors will already know the name, so they know they can trust us to send their money quickly and safely.”
Roy McConnell, National Retail Manager, Eurochange.
“Western Union is a well-known service with a strong brand identity and we’re happy to be associated with them. When customers see the sign they know that if they get stuck on holiday and need some extra money in an emergency they can easily get someone to send it over as they have a very good network with agents in most towns and cities around the world.
The money transfer service also brings in new customers who just want to send money. Many are from overseas who are working in Wales and we’re able to introduce them to our services from Chepstow to Haverfordwest and that can only be good for business in the long run.”
Louise Williams, Foreign Exchange Manager, Travel House.
BUREAUX DE CHANGE
“We’ve been with western union® ever since they started their service in the UK in 1996. As a bureau de change, money transfer was the perfect complement to our business as we deal in lots of different currencies and bank to bank transfers.
It’s the best way of receiving money and the best service. Other companies just do not have the large network or the quality of service – we can provide money to people in 10 minutes which is really important.
We have regular customers who come in every month to send money back home or to pick-up money. We also get a lot of tourists and students as well as our fair share of business from the large number of migrants who are working here in Britain.”
Ilyas Azam, AMB Bureau de Change.
Tel: 0208 563 6614