The new store opening form part of a £1bn UK investment, which also includes improving its indoor and outdoor network coverage.
A spokesman for Vodafone told Marketing Week that while there is a trend towards online shopping, customers visit the company’s stores for more than purchasing new contracts – to seek advice on how to use their handsets, for example – which is why the company is looking to offer a more local service. The formats of existing stores will also be revisted to place a greater emphasis on service rather than the handsets on sale.
He also added that Vodafone is looking to better integrate the online and physical world by promoting services such as click and collect, which will be a more feasible option for more customers as it expands its presence to more towns and cities.
The new openings will bring Vodafone’s total number of stores in the UK up to 500. EE, the biggest operator in the UK, currently has more than 600 stores, while O2 – the second largest network – has 466 retail outlets.
The move also lessens its reliance on third party retailers such as Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U, with whom it has to share a percentage of sales.
Vodafone’s investment was made possible by the company last year selling its 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications for $130bn (£84bn). Vodafone says it plans to invest up to £25bn in the money generated from the sale in improving its European networks and it has ambitions for its five biggest markets in the region to have near 100 per cent 4G coverage by 2017.
Last month Vodafone launched an ad campaign highlighting the story of a fireman and his wife in a bid to “disrupt the trivialisation” of the mobile category by showcasing the dependability of its network.