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Nokia shutters its flagship China store

Company has closed its largest store and will rely more on it third-party retailers and carrier partners to sell its phones.

The first floor of Nokia House in Espoo, Finland. Roger Cheng/CNET

Nokia has closed its flagship store in China, once touted as its largest worldwide.

Nokia told ZDNet that the Shanghai store, which opened in 2007, shut down at the end of March. CNET also confirmed the closure.

"For a while now, Nokia has been focusing on growing its presence in operator and third-party retail outlets, rather than through our own physical stores," according to a company representative. "We are, of course, also continuously beefing up our online presence."

Nokia is shuttering the store even as it presses further to regain lost ground in China, considered one of its key markets in the company's turnaround bid. The company told ZDNet that it would increase its presence at its retail and carrier partners.

Despite the closure, Nokia clearly still has an eye to win back market share in China. At Mobile World Congress, the company unveiled two Lumia smartphones targeted toward budget-conscious consumers, with Chinese consumers in mind.

But the push comes amid a continued decline in revenue from the region. As with many other parts of the world, Nokia has struggled to offset the declines in its traditional Symbian phone business with its new Lumia phones. In the fourth quarter, the company saw its revenue in Greater China plunge 79 percent to $280.7 million year over year. Unit sales fell to less than 5 million from 14.7 million a year earlier.

China Mobile, however, appears to be a key supporter, having agreed to sell the Lumia 920T, a variant of its flagship Lumia 920, as well as the Lumia 520 and Lumia 720.

News of the store's shutdown comes as Samsung Electronics said it would invest in building mini-stores within Best Buys across the U.S., giving it a more direct connection to the consumer.

Nokia previously had a niche retail presence in the U.S. in a few big markets, including New York and Chicago, but had closed those down when interest here for its smartphones cratered. The company has previously attempted to win back U.S. consumers with its new Windows Phone-powered Lumia devices, but has achieved only mixed success.

Updated at 5:44 a.m. PT: to include a response from Nokia.