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Virgin Media to Disappear from High Streets

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The Virgin Media brand will vanish from the high street, with its 53 branches remaining closed after coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Virgin, along with competitor Sky and mobile operators, shuttered all their high-street outlets in March to comply with the government’s lockdown rules. Virgin sold broadband, TV and mobile packages at the locations. The closures were seen as temporary but Virgin has now confirmed the locations will not reopen, alluding to changing customer behaviour and increased use of digital channels.

Rob Orr, executive director for sales, said: “We are focused on delivering the service customers want, in the ways they want it and at a time and place that suits them.”

The virus has hastened an already ongoing transition away from in-person selling to digital sales in the telecoms business. The cable company has already culled its high street locations from 140 in 2016, a move echoed by rival Sky, which closed nearly a quarter of its 260 branches in 2016.

The 341 staff at the locations will be given the opportunity to move to newly created roles within Virgin. That includes about 300 posts in customer care, the majority of these roles based permanently at home. Virgin is understood to be transitioning many roles to remote work, after seeing success making its call centre operations work-from-home during the pandemic. An additional 50 roles will be in field sales.

“By creating new jobs in our most popular care and sales channels, we will be better able to provide our customers with the top service and support they rightly expect while retaining our talented workforce,” Orr said.

Virgin has also been hiring as many companies have slashed staff numbers. In March, the company announced plans to recruit 500 additional call centre staff in the UK over concerns that the pandemic would disrupt planned outsourcing of those jobs to countries like India and the Philippines. Additionally, the company has directly hired 700 engineers, many of them working for third parties contracted by Virgin, as it in-sources its engineering operations to ensure it still has staff to carry out home visits.

The cable internet and pay-TV provider is in the process of a £31 billion merger with mobile operator O2, which is expected to be complete by mid-2021.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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