Details of EE’s widesweeping UK store rollout can be exclusively revealed by Mobile.
According to documents obtained by Mobile, EE is planning to open 17 directly managed stores in new locations throughout 2014. This figure is on top of its 35 new franchise locations.
The operator said last month that it planned to overhaul its retail estate with the transfer of over 50 directly managed stores to franchise and the opening of new franchise locations. As part of the plans, 75 stores will be closed down through consolidation, with one straight closure. Consolidation commenced in January and will be ongoing until April.
Additionally, EE disclosed plans to rollout new concept stores, or Best of EE stores, after trials in Gateshead, Oxford Street and Birmingham. The document proposed the opening of 17 new directly managed locations, or whitespot stores as they’re referred to by EE, as the year unfolds, although it’s not yet clear whether these shops will be concept stores or standard. EE would not confirm the locations of the stores.
The documents sent to Mobile also revealed the locations of the directly managed stores that have been or will be transferred to its franchise estate in February.
This month stores in Bishop Auckland, Northallerton, North Shields, Halifax, Pontefract, Scunthorpe, Huntingdon, Braintree, Brentwood and Newcastle-under-Lyme will be the next ten to be franchised out, with another 43 moved over between March and the end of July.
The operator is proposing the first transfers to take place around the beginning of next month, with around 250 employees being transferred under TUPE if all the franchise proposals go through. As a result of opening 35 new franchises, 350 jobs will be created. EE couldn’t confirm the identity of the franchisees, but Mobile understands that selected candidates, who will need between £200,000 and £350,000 to take ownership of a store, may be granted multiple locations.
Also detailed in the documents was the proposal of 59 employees, understood to be store managers, who will be displaced by redundancy. It is understood that EE have been in consultation with these individuals about redeployment since 3 February, and anyone who can’t be redeployed will be released from 21 February.
EE couldn’t confirm any more details concerning its new concept stores. CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood recently experienced its Oxford Street concept store, and told Mobile: ‘The key thing is the format. There are lots of live handsets, particularly emphasising 4G. There is a focus for business and accessories and more seating.
‘There is big kitchen table area, so the atmosphere is consultative. It’s indicative of the way mobile retail is going, as with saturation there are not a lot of new customers left. The store better utilises its space to help its customers.’
Image curtosy of Charlotte Renton, Pope Wainwright