Vodafone has announced it is shutting down 15 percent of its 7,700 stores in Europe, according to Reuters.
CEO Nick Read said the company will also upgrade some of the remaining stores using data it has gathered about customers’ preferences for each location. It is expected that 40 percent of the stores will be upgraded by the end of 2021.
“If you believe that 40 percent of your transactions are going to be digital, then how does that impact why someone goes to a store? The journeys and the purpose of the store changes,” Read told reporters in Duesseldorf, Germany, Reuters reported. “(That) means that we will have more ‘experience’ stores, less standard format stores (and) more convenience, kiosk and click-to-collect stores.”
Read added that the company will use technology such as its AI-powered chatbot to allow customers to easily buy products and services in three clicks.
Vodafone will stick with its plan to open 24 new franchise stores in the U.K. this year and might launch 50 more locations next year. But while Britain is Vodafone’s home market, Read said Germany will be the key driver of growth via its recent acquisition of Unitymedia.
“I definitely think (Germany’s) the heart of the company, because it’s 40 percent of the free cash flow,” he said. “Now we have a fantastic asset position in that marketplace.”
Read added that Unitymedia is being integrated at a faster pace and with better execution. “We feel very confident on the cost, the capex and the revenue synergies,” he said.
The news follows an announcement in June that Vodafone is enabling customers to make and receive phone calls via an Amazon Echo Speaker with Alexa, its digital voice assistant, built-in. Customers link their mobile phone number to their Alexa account and can then make calls using voice command.