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Virgin Media shuts all high street stores as sales shift online

The internet and TV provider said its 341 shop floor staff will be offered alternative jobs including 300 newly created at-home customer care roles

Liberty Global - Virgin Media shuts all high street stores as sales shift online

Virgin Media has said all of its 53 UK stores will be closed permanently as the majority of its sales and customer enquiries shifted online.

The internet and TV provider, which is owned by US TV and broadband giant Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA), said its 341 shop floor staff will be offered alternative roles including 300 newly created at-home customer care roles alongside another 50 jobs, most of which are related to field sales.

READ: Virgin Media/O2 merger could reshape the UK telecoms industry by creating a new giant

“We are focused on delivering the service customers want, in the ways they want it and at a time and place that suits them,” Rob Orr, an executive director for sales at Virgin Media, told the Guardian.

“By creating new jobs in our most popular care and sales channels, we will be better able to provide our customers with the top service and support they rightly expect while retaining our talented workforce”, he added.

Virgin’s move marks the end of a gradual reduction of its store estate down from 140 in 2016, with rivals such as Sky having also cut down on the number of physical locations as demand shifts away from the high street.

Meanwhile, the company is also expanding its cohort of engineers and call centre staff as it plans a £31bn merger with mobile network operator O2 in a bid to establish a combined entity to challenge BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A) and Sky in the UK market.

Virgin is not the first firm that has been forced to change the structure of its business in response to changing consumer habits during the pandemic.

Last month, Bristol-based energy supplier Ovo Energy announced that it was planning to cut around 2,600 jobs after acquiring the retail business of SSE PLC (LON:SSE), blaming ”accelerated changing consumer behaviour” as more of its customers shopped online and used its digital tools.

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