Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said at an investor conference last month that the carrier would invest in expanding its distribution this year – and it seems it’s not wasting any time.
Sprint this week announced plans to open 60 new stores and add more than 450 jobs in the New England region over the next year and a half. The carrier indicated retail locations will begin opening this summer throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Upstate New York.
The move will nearly double the carrier’s employee number in the region, which currently figures out to a total of around 650 people.
“More stores, in more towns and cities across the region means we’ll be able to better serve our existing customers as well as attract new wireless customers,” Sprint’s New England Region President Gabriel Torres commented. “We’re putting a stake in the ground with continued investment in this region so our customers can have both a great shopping experience and network experience.”
The distribution push is part of a larger effort from Sprint to increase its retail presence across the country, both through direct and indirect growth. At the aforementioned investor conference, Claure said the carrier’s service is currently “tremendously under-distributed” from a company-owned standpoint. So, he said Sprint is planning to expand from around 1,000 company-owned locations to 1,800.
“It’s a big growth for Sprint,” Claure commented. “I mean, Sprint hadn’t opened stores in many years. At the same time we are growing through dealers. So it’s a combination of direct and indirect growth.”
Sprint announced plans to add between 500 to 1,000 stores over the course of 18 months back in February as part of its initiative to bring back or create 5,000 U.S. jobs. But the next month, the company also found itself facing distribution pressure after RadioShack filed for bankruptcy. The carrier had been using some locations of the electronics store as co-branded retail venues. After the filing, Sprint said it would take over corporate ownership of “several hundred” locations, but analysts said the lack of a strong retail presence could hurt the carrier.
“With industry churn at record lows, it’s important to recognize that a branded store also contributes to customer satisfaction,” BTIG’s Walter Piecyk wrote in a March note. “Existing customers use stores to upgrade phones, pay bills, and handle equipment or service issues. We believe these customer service related items can account for more than 50 percent of a stores activity. While the loss of 1,000 RadioShack stores may ‘not impact sales’ in the near-term, these other benefits and a reduction of a community presence is not costless for Sprint.”
The new stores Sprint is launching in New England, though, will reestablish the carrier’s presence in the area with the support or recent network improvements.
Sprint said it has made “substantial” network investments in markets including Boston, Buffalo, N.Y., Northern Connecticut, Providence, R.I., and Rochester, N.Y. where more than 630 cell sites have been upgraded with the addition of 800 MHz, 2.5 GHz, LTE technology, HD Voice, and carrier aggregation technology.
Sprint in April announced plans to open 79 new retail locations and add more than 550 jobs throughout Texas, and followed up with plans to open 15 new stores in Miami and South Florida by the end of 2018.