The 333 shops of Pickfords, which has been associated with the travel business since the beginning of the century, were sold to Airtours in September 1992. Hogg Robinson was formed shortly after the last war: its 210 holiday shops were bought by Airtours in June 1993. A third agency group, the nine-strong Hourmont Travel, a part of Pickfords since 1987, will also join the Going Places chain.
Tour operators are expecting a tough year and competition is fierce - not only in price-cutting. In response to Thomson's announcement last month that it plans to sell its holidays through stores such as Marks & Spencer and building society offices, Airtours has warned that it may decline to sell Thomson's cheaper holidays via its Going Places shops. It seems clear that 1994 will be another bruising year in the travel business.