Bose has announced its intention to shut down almost its entire retail store operation, with all Bose outlets in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia to close. Unsurprisingly, Bose cited the popularity of its products via e-commerce and online platforms.
The decision by Bose will inevitably result in hundreds of redundancies, and will be seen as another indication of the challenges that the high street faces in a market dominated by online retail. Bose has offered physical retail stores for over 25 years, and has a wide variety of locations in shopping centres and malls, particularly in the United States.
Ahead of the closures, Bose has been reluctant to reveal how many workers will be impacted by its decision.
Bose has steadily built up an impressive portfolio of products, and its retail stores have been used to showcase its current product line. While Bose is most readily associated with its noise-cancelling headphones, the company has expanded its scope in recent years, embracing such products as smart speakers and sunglasses that can also be used as earbuds.
While Bose products are also available through a wide variety of other retail stores, Bose has always used its own chain in order to show off the best of its wares. But it seems that in a retail climate dominated by online giants such as Amazon that Bose stores are no longer viable in many parts of the world.
Colette Burke, Bose’s vice president of global sales, told The Verge that the original ethos for Bose’s physical stores is no longer applicable.
“Originally, our retail stores gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us about multi-component, CD and DVD-based home entertainment system. 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,” Burke commented.
Bose will slowly curtail its retail operation in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia over the next few months, with 119 stores closing in total. However, it isn’t the end of Bose as a retail presence on the high street, as around 130 stores located in greater China and the United Arab Emirates, along with additional stores in India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea will remain open. It seems that Bose faces particular challenges in established retail markets, while it stores remain viable in some developing economies.
The company has also confirmed that it will provide outplacement assistance and severance to any employees that are made redundant. In an official statement, Bose described the evolution of the retail market as a “dramatic shift”, which has rendered its previous policy obsolete.
Companies such as Bose have faced stiff competition from affordable audio equipment manufactured by the likes of Amazon and Google. Sonos recently announced legal action against Amazon over what it alleges are breaches of patent.