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Optus cuts TeleChoice ties, opts for own stores

Optus will end its dealer arrangement with TeleChoice in March, and will instead roll out 33 new stores across Australia.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Optus is cutting ties with its biggest third-party retailer, TeleChoice, just a week after announcing the end of its agreement with Boost, as the company looks to raise the profile of its own brand in the retail marketplace.

The SingTel-owned company announced today that it will terminate its retail agreements with TeleChoice in March next year, with Optus instead focusing on its own stores. Optus also plans to launch 33 new stores, employing around 200 staff across the country.

TeleChoice, which currently only sells exclusively Optus and Virgin products, has 154 outlets across the country. It comes just under a week after Optus terminated its licence agreement with youth-targeted prepaid mobile company Boost, forcing the company to license Telstra products.

In a similar move to what Telstra has done with its own Apple-style retail outlets, Optus is looking to train its staff to provide more expert advice on products to customers, and will overhaul its IT systems in the retail outlets to improve services, including allowing customers to go in and pick up products ordered online.

The changes are expected to occur over the next 12 months.

It comes just as the company finalises 750 job cuts mainly in management, operations, and back-office support.

In August, Optus reported a 3.9 percent drop in quarterly profit to AU$155 million. CEO Paul O'Sullivan said that he saw a "significant value erosion" in the telecommunications industry, and that Optus had to move from a plan of trying to win customers to one that seeks to retain customers. Optus' managing director of sales, Rohan Ganeson, said today that Optus taking the reins of its retail presence is part of this strategy.

Vodafone yesterday announced its intention to retrench up to 500 staff as part of a restructure to refocus the company amid massive losses and hundreds of thousands of customers leaving the mobile network provider. Staff members are reportedly being directed to "what to expect" sessions across the country, as Vodafone prepares to shed up to 10 percent of its workforce.

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