What are Samsung Experience Stores? Why, they're a dying species, if the latest development in Samsung's efforts to establish its own retail empire are any indication. The flagship Samsung store in London, occupying a large and prominent spot at the Westfield Stratford City shopping center, has now been "permanently closed," ostensibly in response to the company's slumping smartphone sales. Images of the store's deconstruction were posted to Twitter last night and a call to its customer support line was greeted with an automated message saying it's now closed for good.
In a statement to The Verge, Samsung expressed regret at the store's closure, saying, "We remain fully committed to the operation of the remaining nine Samsung Experience Stores across the UK, and wish to reassure our customers that those stores will not be affected by this decision."
Along with a centrally located Oxford Street shop, this was Samsung's biggest — and thus most expensive and ostentatious — exhibition space in London. Samsung made a big point of promoting its Experience Stores, making them the destination to get the very first Galaxy S4 and, later, S5 units sold in the UK, but excitement and sales have apparently petered out after a strong start. Now that Samsung no longer sells laptops in Europe, and with mobile sales shrinking, it's reasonable for the company to cut down on its retail costs, of which the marquee Westfield location would have been a major part.
Though Samsung is no longer headlining one of Europe's biggest malls with its presence, the rest of its own-brand stores across the UK will persist as local hubs that can show off the Korean company's formidable product portfolio. Plans for future expansion, though, such as the 60 new retail spots across Europe that were announced at the start of this year, may have to be revised in light of Samsung's recent fortunes.