The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has revealed plans to end its direct retail operations by the end of this year by closing its ABC Shop Online and in-store ABC Centres located in bookshops and newsagents.
The national broadcaster previously operated its own retail stores, but this 50-strong store network was closed back in 2015.
Since then, ABC products — including DVDs, music, books and toys — have been sold via the ABC’s own online store and in concession-style outlets in third-party retail stores, including Dymocks, newsagents, and Collins and independent bookstores. These branded outlets will all be closed by February 15, 2019.
SmartCompany understands there are currently 40 ABC Centres operating around the country, compared to 78 back in 2015.
Speaking to SmartCompany, Dymocks managing director Steve Cox said there are currently eight ABC Centres located within Dymocks bookstores, of which there are 60 in Australia, “and while DVD and CD sales are declining, book sales are still going strong”.
He says the ABC has “been transparent in their communications” with Dymocks stores.
“It is always sad news to hear of a retailer closing, particularly one as close to the hearts of Australians as the ABC Shop Online and its centres,” Cox says.
“We are confident that loyal ABC customers will be able to shop at their locally owned and operated Dymocks store and receive excellent recommendations from our well-read teams”.
In a statement on Wednesday, the ABC said its products will continue to be sold through approved retailers around the country following the closure of the online store and the ABC Centres.
The decision by ABC Commercial to end its direct retail operations is expected to result in 16 redundancies.
“ABC Shop Online and the ABC Centres are an important part of the ABC’s commercial operations, and these decisions are never taken lightly,” said Andrew Lambert, general manager of ABC Commercial, in a statement.
“The proposal directly responds to the changing market — in particular consumers’ shift to digital delivery of audio and visual content.
“Coupled with the intensifying global competition affecting the entire retail sector, the resulting decline in physical sales means the retail business is becoming increasingly unviable.”
The ABC said it has begun consulting with employees and union representatives about the closure plan and this process will continue over coming weeks.
A spokesperson for the ABC confirmed to SmartCompany it will be working with retailers over coming months as the ABC centres are closed.
“We have been in touch with the franchisees and will work with them on an orderly transition over the next six months,” the spokesperson said.
Shoppers will still be able to place orders for in-stock items from the ABC Shop Online and redeem existing digital gift cards, however, no new digital gift cards will be sold. An online closing down sale is expected to be run before the end of the year.
SmartCompany contacted Collins Booksellers but did not receive a response prior to publication.
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