Sprint continues its retail build-out with plans for 60 new stores in New England

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Sprint's new stores are part of a broader strategy to increase its direct-to-consumer retail presence nationwide

Sprint announced plans to open more than 60 new stores in New England over the next 18 months as part of its broader strategy to expand its direct-to-consumer retail presence.

The nation’s fourth-largest mobile network operator said the move will create more than 450 jobs throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and upstate New York. The move is aimed at leveraging recent network investments in markets such as Boston; Buffalo, New York; and Providence, Rhode Island.

Sprint said it has upgraded 630 cell sites in New England with the addition of 800 MHz, 2.5 GHz, HD Voice and carrier aggregation.

“All of these upgrades have significantly improved the overall performance of video and other bandwidth-intensive applications throughout the region, and at specific venues such as Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park,” the operator said in an announcement. “Additionally, Sprint added 2.5 LTE at the new ERA stadium in Buffalo for the (NFL’s) Bills.”

Sprint continues to work to ramp up its retail distribution footprint even as it struggles with the closing of RadioShack stores throughout the country. RadioShack filed for Chapter 11 protection in March, saying it will close roughly 200 stores and “evaluate options” on the remaining 1,300 outlets. Sprint purchased 1,750 RadioShack stores in early 2015 after the company went bankrupt the first time, and several months later the operator had a presence in 1,435 of the stores.

Sprint CFO Tarek Robbiati said a few months ago that retail had become a top priority as the carrier continues to fight to close the gap with its bigger rivals and trim expenses that accompany deals with third-party retailers.

“We are not satisfied with the level of productivity we are driving across all our channels,” Robbiati said on Tuesday at an investors conference, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “Right now we feel we are a little bit overindexed on expensive distribution channels. So, for example, we acquire more customers than we would like to in channels that are expensive, like dealers. Dealers, yes, you pay them a variable commission, but the variable commission has been sized to include recovery of the overheads. If we were to acquire the same amount of customers into our own company-owned retail stores we would be incurring a much lower variable cost of acquisition, or gross adds, or lower cost to bear.”