Sprint continues retail build-out with plans for 73 new stores in Northern California and the Midwest

Sprint's ongoing retail build-out is expanding to Northern California and the Midwest.

Sprint said it will continue its aggressive retail expansion with the opening of 73 new stores in Northern California and the Midwest by the end of the year.

The carrier said Tuesday that it will create 300 new jobs with the launch of 43 outlets in California towns such as Bakersfield, Fresno, Hayward and Napa, as well as two stores in Reno, Nevada. And in a subsequent announcement Wednesday it said it will add more than 200 new jobs as it opens 30 locations throughout Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska by the end of the year.

“Total wireless data usage has grown, on average, more than 900% over the last three years throughout Northern California,” said Eamon O’Leary, a regional vice president of network at Sprint. “Over the last five years, Sprint has invested well over $860 million in our Northern California network, taking advantage of our available spectrum to add speed and capacity, ensuring consumers are able to enjoy their experience now and in the future as the demand for data continues to grow.”

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Like T-Mobile, Sprint appears to be growing its retail presence to capitalize on areas where it has recently upgraded its network and improved coverage. Last month it revealed plans to open more than five dozen new stores in New England, creating more than 450 jobs, then announced it would add 78 new locations in Southern California by the end of the year.

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 fights 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.”

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