Samsung’s attempt at competing with the Apple Store on high streets and in shopping malls is faltering after the South Korean company was forced to close its flagship Experience Store inside London’s busy Westfield Stratford City shopping center.
The move comes amid declining Samsung smartphone sales in many key markets, with the Galaxy S5 struggling to meet the precedents set by its hugely successful predecessors. In addition, Samsung stopped selling all of its laptops across Europe back in September due to “market demands.”
The Westfield Stratford City store was one of Samsung’s biggest — and therefore one of its most expensive — along with its Oxford Street outlet. Samsung put a lot of effort into promoting its Experience Stores, and made them the first destination where customers could buy the Galaxy S4 and then the Galaxy S5 when they made their debuts.
The company insists its nine remaining retail stores in the U.K. are going nowhere.
“We remain fully committed to the operation of the remaining nine Samsung Experience Stores across the UK, and wish to reassure our customers that those stores will not be affected by this decision,” Samsung said in a statement to The Verge.
It’s unclear how this closure and declining sales will affect Samsung’s plan to open the 60 new retail outlets across Europe that were announced early this year. Although we don’t expect the Samsung store to disappear completely, it would be hugely surprising to see the company open up quite as many anytime soon.
Samsung will be hoping that next year’s Galaxy S6 can make the Galaxy lineup as popular as it once was. In addition to cutting-edge specifications, the device is expected to deliver a premium design that could finally ditch tacky plastic for good in favor of an all-aluminum form factor.
Samsung is likely to announce the Galaxy S6 in February — just before Mobile World Congress — as it has done in previous years. The device is then likely to go on sale in April.