EUROPE – British based multinational telecommunications conglomerate Vodafone, has announced that it will shut 15% of its 7,700 stores in Europe and upgrade some of the remaining outlets as customers buy more online and change their expectations of in-store shopping.

The company’s chief executive Nick Read while revealing the company’s plans also said that the group will overhaul its European store estate.

According to read, during the overhaul, data will be used to give insight into what customers want in each location and about 40% of the stores will be transformed by the end of 2021.

While speaking to reporters at a briefing in Duesseldorf, Germany, Read said. “If you believe that 40% of your transactions are going to be digital, then how does that impact why someone goes to a store. The journeys and the purpose of the store changes.”

“(That) means that we will have more ‘experience’ stores, less standard format stores (and) more convenience, and kiosk and click-to-collect stores,” added Read.

Read further noted that the group would use new technology such as its AI-powered chatbot to help customers buy products and services in just three clicks.

Read also revealed that the company has come up with a vanguard plan to create a “gigabit” company centered on 5G mobile, ultrafast cable and fiber broadband, and a European pay-TV platform second only to Comcast’s Sky in customer numbers.

As part of actualizing its plan, Vodafone had in July this year invested in a US$22billion deal to acquire all the assets of Liberty Global which include the buyout of Unitymedia, one of the the largest cable network in Europe.

Vodafone, the world’s second largest mobile operator, however, plans to continue store openings in Britain.

In September, it announced plans to open 24 new franchise stores in Britain before the end of this year, and it is examining the possibility of opening 50 more stores in 2020 in conjunction with new online services.

Vodafone is also aiming to cut costs by 1.2 billion pounds by its 2021 financial year.