If you’ve been planning to buy or return something to a nearby Bose store, you might want to do it soon because the well-known audio equipment maker is about to close 119 stores, including every retail location in the U.S.
According to Bose, the reason for the closings is due to a rise in online purchases and a consumer shift away from brick-and-mortar retail locations. In addition to closing every U.S. retail location, Bose’s 119 closings also includes shutting down every Bose store in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia.
Bose says it expects to close the stores over “the next several months,” at which point Bose will have 130 retail stores left globally spread across China, the UAE, India, South Korea, and Southeast Asia.
As part of the plan, Bose will also be forced to lay off potentially hundreds of employees. However, because Bose is not a publicly traded company, there is no requirement for the company to disclose exactly how many employees will be affected, or even if the move to close retail stores was spurred on by a recent dip in sales. As a consolation, Bose says it will offer affected employees some kind of severance package and will help them find jobs through an outplacement assistant program.
When Gizmodo reached out to Bose for more information, a spokesperson for Bose provided an official statement on the matter saying:
Given the dramatic shift to online shopping in specific markets, Bose plans to close its remaining 119 retail stores across North America, Europe, Japan and Australia over the next several months. In other parts of the world, Bose stores will remain open, including approximately 130 stores located in Greater China and the United Arab Emirates; and additional stores in India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea.
In 1993, Bose opened its first store in the United States to provide personal, private demonstrations for Wave music systems and Lifestyle home theater systems. As smartphones changed the industry, the company’s focus turned to mobile, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi solutions. Today, Bose noise-cancelling headphones, truly wireless sport earbuds, portable speakers, and smart speakers are increasingly purchased through e-commerce, including Bose.com; and Bose is a larger multi-national company, with a localized mix of channels tailored for a country or region.
“Originally, our retail stores gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us about multi-component, CD and DVD-based home entertainment systems,” said Colette Burke, vice president of Global Sales, Bose Corporation. “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. It’s still difficult, because the decision impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day. They take care of every person who walks through our doors – whether that’s helping with a problem, giving expert advice, or just letting someone take a break and listen to great music. Over the years, they’ve set the standard for customer service. And everyone at Bose is grateful.”
Bose will be offering outplacement assistance and severance to affected employees. Additional details, including the number of employees affected, will remain private.
While the shuttering of this many stores is a bit sad, it’s not exactly a shock given the massive rise in popularity for online shopping and the decreased value of having local retail stores, even for major brands such as Bose.