WOKINGHAM’S branches of the Carphone Warehouse are to close as the parent company restructures its business and makes 2,900 people redundant.
The chain, which has 531 stores across the UK including Market Place in Wokingham’s town centre, says that this is the “next step in its transformation”.
It also has a branch at Shepherd’s Hill on the Woodey/Earley border, and a store on Shinfield Road on the Reading/Shinfield border.
There are also stores in Reading and Bracknell’s town centre.
It will keep the kiosk stores in 305 Currys PCWorld stores, such as the one in the shadow of the Madejski Stadium, but close the branches by Friday, April 3.
A statement from Alex Baldock, Group Chief Executive, said that the standalone shops represent just 8% of the company’s UK ‘selling space’ and was “essential … to ensure a business fit for the future”.
It added that the closures are a response to the changing retail environment: “Customers are changing the way they buy mobile devices and connectivity, replacing their handsets less often and buying them separately or as part of more flexible bundles…
“Customers are also increasingly choosing to shop, not only with our large and growing online business, but also in the company’s big three-in-one stores, featuring Currys, PCWorld and Carphone Warehouse, which continue to grow market share and where customer satisfaction is sharply up.
“These stores, which are 20 times larger than Carphone Warehouse standalone stores, allow customers to see, touch and play with technology – electricals as well as mobile, services as well as products – and receive trusted independent advice from 17,000 expert store colleagues, all in one place. The business has been investing tens of millions of pounds in these stores.”
Later this year, the company will launch a “new mobile customer offer”.
This, the company said, “will better reflect what customers want: flexibility, transparency, and value. This will include deals they can’t find anywhere else, nationwide face-to-face advice, the best range of handsets from the biggest brands and a wide range of tariffs and networks, underpinned by a market-beating price promise.”
Mr Baldock added: “Clearly, with unsustainable losses of £90m expected this year, Mobile is currently holding back the whole business. There’s never an easy time for an announcement like this, but the turbulent times ahead only underline the importance of acting now.
“I don’t underestimate how upsetting this news will be for our colleagues, and we’ll treat everyone with honesty, respect and care. We want to keep as many of our Carphone Warehouse colleagues as we can, and expect to find new roles for almost 40% of those affected. We’re working hard to look after those colleagues we can’t find new roles for, financially and otherwise.
“We’ll pay enhanced redundancy, any bonuses, honour their share awards, and help them find new jobs through an outplacement programme. We recognise our responsibilities towards our colleagues and communities, and intend to fulfil them.”