Bose plans to close its entire retail store footprint in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. The company announced the decision earlier today and pointed to the fact that its headphones, speakers, and other products “are increasingly purchased through e-commerce” as the reasoning. Hundreds of employees will be laid off as a result.
Bose opened its first physical retail store in 1993 and currently has locations in many shopping centers and the remaining malls scattered across the US. The stores are used to showcase the company’s product lineup, which has grown beyond Bose’s signature noise-canceling headphones in recent years to include smart speakers and sunglasses that double as earbuds. There are often similar demo areas at retailers like Best Buy, though Bose has plenty of competition to worry about in that environment.
The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company is privately held and is not revealing exactly how many workers are being impacted by its decision to pull out of physical retail.
“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, Bose’s vice president of global sales. “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.”
Bose is shuttering its retail presence in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia “over the next few months.” That adds up to a total of 119 stores, according to a spokesperson. “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,” the company told The Verge by email.
Bose says it’s offering outplacement assistance and severance to employees that are being laid off. The company’s full statement is below:
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.
Bose products are carried at Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Apple stores, other third-party retailers, and on the company’s own website.