Spark sees future in high street as it takes full ownership of its 62 stores

All Spark's 62 stores will soon be owned by the company.
TOM PULLAR-STRECKER/FAIRFAX NZ

All Spark's 62 stores will soon be owned by the company.

Spark is taking over the running of 26 Spark-branded retail stores that had previously been operated by retail partners Leading Edge and Orb.

Channel manager Grant McBeath said that would mean Spark would own all its 62 stores by the end of the year.  

The change away from a dealer model would make it easier for Spark to use the stores to showcase its digital services, such as streaming television service Lightbox, he said. 

The number of dealer-owned stores had previously been in decline. Leading Edge and Orb together once had 91 stores between them.

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But that was cut to about 60 in 2011.

"A few years back, analysts were gloomily predicting the 'death of the high street'. However ... we're seeing a resurgence in the importance of physical locations to complement the digital experiences that businesses provide," McBeath said.

"While many customers are choosing to buy online, the option to visit a physical location to 'click and collect', exchange or return items, or simply get the opportunity to touch and feel a new device prior to purchase is increasingly seen as an attractive choice," he said.

Staff at the dealer-owned stores would be offered jobs with Spark and there were no plans to close any of the stores, he said. 

Leading Edge, which is Australian owned, has been contacted for comment.

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 - Stuff

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