Microsoft has said it intends to keep all of its retail locations closed permanently, as it reorganises its sales offering towards online shopping.
It said its retail team members will “continue to serve customers from Microsoft corporate facilities”, remotely providing sales, training, and support. No job losses were mentioned.
It added that it will reimagine some of its spaces that serve its customers, including the Microsoft Experience Centres in London, New York City, Sydney and Redmond.
It is understood this includes the recently opened flagship store on Oxford Circus.
The closing of all physical locations will result in a pre-tax charge of approximately $450m, Microsoft said, which will be recorded in the current quarter. The charge “includes primarily asset write-offs and impairments”.
“Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location,” said Microsoft corporate vice president David Porter.
“It is a new day for how Microsoft Store team members will serve all customers. We are energised about the opportunity to innovate in how we engage with all customers, maximise our talent for greatest impact, and most importantly help our valued customers achieve more.”
Retail team members have been involved in providing webinars and mentoring sessions while lockdown measures forced stores to close all over the world.
Microsoft said it believes refocusing its retail staff towards working digitally will allow the company to serve both consumer and business customers, while “building a pipeline of talent with transferable skills”.
As markets opened in New York this afternoon, its shares edged down slightly by 0.4 per cent.
The move into physical retail was relatively new for Microsoft, as it sought to compete against Apple which operates a highly successful store network globally. It often located its stores in close proximity to Apple’s own flagships, with its London flagship only doors away from Apple’s Regent Street location.
A Microsoft spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment confirming the future of its Oxford Street store.