Virgin Media will not reopen its retail stores once lockdown measures are revoked, permanently shuttering 53 outlets across the UK.
The company said the difficult decision had been made in response to changing consumer behaviours. It says the majority of enquiries already take place online or over the phone and that it planned to invest in these channels rather than on the high street.
The announcement affects 341 Virgin Media staff – all of whom will be offered jobs elsewhere in the business.
Virgin Media has been a contact centre recruitment drive over the past two months while there are immediate plans to create 300 home-based customer service roles using technology that has been trialled during the pandemic.
“We are focused on delivering the service customers want, in the ways they want it and at a time and a place that suits them. By creating new jobs in our most popular care and sales channels, we will be better able to provide our customers with the top service and support they rightly expect while retaining our talented workforce.”
It is understood that the closures are not related to the proposed Virgin Media merger with O2. Earlier this month Virgin Media’s parent company Liberty Global agreed to combine the business with Telefonica’s O2, creating a £31 billion joint-venture that would become one of Europe’s biggest telcos.
Just before lockdown measures were introduced, Dixons Carphone announced it would shut all 531 Carphone Warehouse retail stores and make 2,900 staff redundant. It to cited the shift to online as a reason for the closures.