Audio equipment manufacturer Bose is shutting down almost half of its shops around the world. The company is closing its entire retail presence in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia – adding up to 119 stores. All of these stores will be shut over the next few months, Bose confirmed to The Verge via email.
The company says consumer buying habits have changed over the years as people are increasingly buying things online rather than walking into physical stores. This is precisely the reason it is shuttering its retail presence in some markets, at least that's what it says.
"Originally, our retail stores gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us about multi-component, CD and DVD-based home entertainment systems," said Colette Burke, Bose's vice president of global sales. "At the time, it was a radical idea, but we focused on what our customers needed, and where they needed it — and we're doing the same thing now."
Closing of these many retail stores inevitably means layoffs. Bose, however, promises to offer outplacement assistance and severance to affected employees. The company isn't sharing how many people will be affected, though.
"It's still difficult, because the decision impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day. Over the years, they've set the standard for customer service. And everyone at Bose is grateful," Burke added.
Bose retail stores will remain open in other parts of the world
Bose will continue to operate its physical stores in other parts of the world. There are about 130 Bose stores located in Greater China and the United Arab Emirates, and a few more in India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea. The company's revised business policy doesn't seem to apply to these markets, hinting that online shopping in these markets may not be as strong yet, or at least there are still enough customers walking into the physical stores.
Bose opened its first physical retail store in the US in 1993. The company currently has locations in many shopping centers and malls across the nation. These stores are used to showcase its product lineup, which includes Bose's signature noise-canceling headphones, earbuds, smart speakers, and more.
Back in the day, it was essential to have a place where consumers can test out products before buying them. However, times have changed and audio products are now increasingly purchased through online channels. This change in consumer buying habits is forcing Bose to shutter many of its brick and mortar stores.
The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company currently sells its products online through Amazon, Best Buy, Apple Stores, Target, select third-party retailers, and on its own website.