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EE shops closing months after rebrand, staff to be kept on

Phone network EE is axeing 78 Orange and T-Mobile shops -- less than three months after millions were spent on rebranding them.

There's more trouble on the high street. As Blockbuster and HMV spiral into oblivion, 4G phone network EE is axeing 78 shops -- less than three months after millions were spent on rebranding them.

The former Orange and T-Mobile shops chosen for the chop have been decided based on factors such as how many customers each store has, whether a lease is coming to an end, or how close the next EE store is. Which, as in the case of the photo above -- taken by Flickr user Lazygamer in Leeds -- is very close indeed.

EE is the network formed from the merger of Orange and T-Mobile. Upon merging, the new uber-network overhauled the 700 Orange and T-Mobile shops with new signs, interiors and branding bearing EE's logo and new information, not to mention retraining staff.

This despite the glaringly obvious fact that some shops would go, simply because of all the duplicate branches on high streets. So why did EE waste your phone bill money on rebranding clearly doomed stores?

I put that question to EE, which said it has gone ahead with rebranding and running stores since the merger to avoid a "knee-jerk reaction". The network says stores have been under review since the rebrand in October, and the timing of the announcement -- in the same week as Blockbuster and HMV enter administration -- is purely coincidental.

The good news is that EE says it will retain all shop staff, moving employees to the nearest shops. Managers will also be redeployed where possible, but may be at risk.

EE assured me that it's not looking to make job cuts and is in fact opening four new branches in new locations. I'm pleased EE isn't talking job losses, but also suspicious: at the time of the merger EE vowed not to cut shops, only to quietly do just that a couple of months later. 

Are you an EE employee? What has EE told you about the closures? Is this another disaster for the British high street, or is EE doing the right thing? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.