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Virgin Media to close flagship Oxford St store in August

One of 30 Brit branches to be shut due to 'shift to online'

Exclusive Virgin Media has named the 30 branches scheduled to shut as part of plans to slash up to 250 jobs – including the closure of its flagship Oxford Street store in London in August.

All the stores will close between August and mid October, the UK cable giant said in a detailed proposal of the plans seen by The Register.

Sources had told us that 28 posts are being cut in Virgin’s Hammersmith headquarters as well as 220 store roles across Britain.

In an email to staff, Virgin Media said a review of its operations had revealed an increase in the number of customers choosing to buy through online channels meaning that “a number of retail locations where the costs associated with running those stores are no longer efficient.

"It has become clear that it is more effective to deliver new sales volume through other non-retail channels across a number of geographical areas.”

However, one insider said staff were told specifically that they were losing jobs because of not hitting the projected Lightning figures due to the numbers having been exaggerated.

In March, Virgin Media admitted to overstating its £3bn Project Lightning superfast broadband rollout by 142,000 premises, which led to the suspension of four staff and a reshuffle of its top brass. Sales figures for June, seen by The Register, revealed that Virgin Media has only hit 57 per cent of its sales target for Project Lightning this month.

The company is also running an incentive for its sales staff to go on an all expenses paid trip to Mexico. “How is this appropriate when we have been sacked for something we haven't done?” asked the insider.

As well as closing 30 stores, VM will open seven smaller “more efficient stores or kiosks," it said.

It said: “The impact of reducing our estate coupled with the deployment of our new technologies has led us to also propose that we also reduce our head office support functions.

“We will not be going into detail of all the roles impacted as we want to make consultation meaningful, however we can let you know there are further reductions proposed to the head office teams. Once collective consultation has concluded we will share with you the impacted roles.”

The 30 stores due to close are: Two Ipswich branches, Oxford Street, Woking, Meadowhall, Sheffield, Coventry, Swindon, Glasgow, Bromley, Gateshead, Basingstoke, Halifax, Thurrock, Enfield, Brixton, Wakefield, Sunderland, Watford, Colchester, Stevenage, Blackpool, Wellingborough, Leamington Spa, Kingston, Manchester, Bullring, Cambridge, Basildon, Stratford.

The Register has asked Virgin Media for comment. ®

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