Spark will move away from a dealer partner model in New Zealand, with plans in place to take on direct management of all consumer stores.
The shift sees the telco giant in the process of moving 26 retail stores nationwide from management by dealer partners Leading Edge and Orb to direct management by Spark.
According to the company, the end goal is to have all mall and high street consumer stores under Spark ownership from late 2017.
Through directly owning 36 stores already, the addition of the 26 dealer stores will bring Spark’s total owned stores to 62 across the country, with no plans to close stores.
“A few years back, analysts were gloomily predicting the ‘death of the high street’,” Spark general manager of customer channels Grant McBeath said.
“However, while e-commerce and online channels are becoming a fundamental way that businesses reach their customers, we’re seeing a resurgence in the importance of physical locations to complement the digital experiences that businesses provide.
“For instance, while many customers are choosing to buy online, the option to visit a physical location to ‘click and collect’, exchange or return items, or simply get the opportunity to touch and feel a new device prior to purchase is increasingly seen as an attractive choice.
“Even dominant online retailers such as Amazon are building high street stores that they use both as stock warehousing and as shopping destinations.”
McBeath said Spark is “working closely” with the dealer business owners to work out the details to ensure a “smooth transition” in the months ahead.
Specifically, business hubs and hybrid stores - that offer both consumer and business solutions - will continue to be run by Leading Edge and Orb under the current dealer model.
Consequently, dealer employees who work for the stores that are being bought back will be offered the opportunity to stay with the store and move to direct employment with Spark.
“We believe that stores are a key part of the community, especially in smaller towns around New Zealand,” McBeath added.
McBeath said taking control of stores across the country will also allow the telco to push other products, such as the Spark App, alongside Spotify, Lightbox and Netflix offerings.