In the Orange store on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, passers-by have not been able to buy a phone or accessories in recent days. The point of sale is permanently closed. This “smart store”, which was presented as the group’s next-generation store when it was opened in September 2015 by former CEO Stéphane Richard, did not withstand the drop in attendance caused by the Covid19 crisis.
Symbolically, the closure of the Champs-Elysées flagship hides a deeper reflection of the operator on the perimeter of its distribution network. A careful tour of France has already led to the closure of 38 stores in 2021, ie about 10% of the park, reduced to 323 “distribution agencies”. Including those taken over by General Telephone (GDT), Orange’s 100% subsidiary built on the former Photo Service and Photo Station chain, the net reduction is approaching fifteen closures.
In Grasse (Alpes-Maritimes), where the Orange store closed on 21 May, as in dozens of other affected municipalities, the closure caused some excitement. “The people of Grasse now have to go back and forth for an hour to get to the nearest store in Cannes. This loss of proximity is also a decline in the right to public service in terms of communication.regrets Rémi Demouveaux, Secretary General of the CGT FAPT Department.
“Decline in traffic”
“The network must constantly adapt to changing consumption patterns. That’s why we do about 30 operations every year, whether it’s relocations, renovations or closures. “answers Frédéric Le Mounier, Orange France’s director of sales and customer service, who opposes leaving city centers in favor of shopping centers on the periphery. “Half of our points of sale are still in the heart of cities” and according to an indicator that is said to be closely monitored, 87% of the population is less than thirty minutes away from trading in operator colors.
In 2019, half of the business operations were performed in stores. In 2021 it was only 38%
If it started before the health crisis, the reorganization of the network becomes more urgent after the pandemic. “We expected a declining trend in the number of visitors to our stores. But Covid shook those forecasts by saving us five years in our traffic projections. “, explains Mr Le Mounier. In 2019, half of the business operations were performed in stores. In 2021 it was only 38%.
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