EE, the amalgamation of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, has announced it will be closing a number of its shops across the UK in a bid to reduce costs and streamline its operations.
A spokesman for EE told ZDNet 78 stores would be affected and the decision about which stores to close came down to practical factors such as how much footfall each had, whether a lease was coming to an end, and how close the next EE store was. The company statement said the move would allow it to serve its customers better, albeit with fewer stores.
"Where we have two EE stores in very close proximity to each other — in some places they are just a door away — we have decided to consolidate. This makes commercial sense and will also help us manage the high levels of demand in our stores and improve the customer experience," an EE spokeswoman said in a statement on Thursday.
Despite the news - another blow for a struggling UK high street that has seen Jessops, Blockbuster, Comet and HMV close in the last few months - EE said it would retain all front line staff and strive to minimise the impact on managers.
"All front line staff will be moving to the other stores, which will boost service levels significantly. A store can only have one manager, so we will look to redeploy the small number of affected managers where possible," the company said.
EE's website currently lists more than 700 retail stores and says that the company employs more than 11,000 customer service and retail employees across the brands T-Mobile, Orange and EE brands.
EE is currently the only national operator able to offer 4G services in the UK, but it will face greater competition later in the year when rival networks will be able to introduce LTE services.