Referencing Amazon — as is the fashion — Spark says it plans to take over management of the 26 retail stores currently run by partners Leading Edge and Orb.
Spark says there is a cost to the change, but that it's not material and will not be disclosed.
The transition is due to be completed by the end of the year.
Spark says it has 62 consumer stores in total, along with eight hybrid stores that offer both consumer and business solutions, and 19 business-only stores.
Both the hybrid stores and the business-focussed stores will remain under dealer control.
Dealer employees who work for the stores being bought back will be offered the opportunity to stay with the store and move to direct employment with Spark.
Grant McBeath, Spark GM of customer channels, says “a few years back, analysts were gloomily predicting the ‘death of the high street’. However, while e-commerce and online channels are becoming a fundamental way that businesses reach their customers, we’re seeing a resurgence in the importance of physical locations to complement the digital experiences that businesses provide.
“For instance, while many customers are choosing to buy online, the option to visit a physical location to ‘click and collect’, exchange or return items, or simply get the opportunity to touch and feel a new device prior to purchase is increasingly seen as an attractive choice. Even dominant online retailers such as Amazon are building and buying established high street stores that they use both as stock warehousing and as shopping destinations."
Mr McBeath says stores are also a key part of the community in smaller towns around New Zealand.
There are 57 2degrees stores, 38 of which are dealer stores that the company says "effectively operate in a franchise model."
More than half of Vodafone’s 76 retail stores are operated by partners and franchisees, Vodafone head of distribution and channels Nick Roberts says.
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