Sprint's retail expansion to continue with 78 new stores in Southern California this year

Sprint sign
Sprint said the expansion will create 550 jobs in the region.

Sprint’s aggressive retail expansion will continue with the addition of 78 new locations throughout Southern California by the end of the year.

The No. 4 operator in the United States unveiled plans to add more than 550 jobs, including a combination of retail, operations and technical experts, as part of the expansion. The move will mark a significant initiative in the region for Sprint, which currently counts more than 1,400 employees and operates more than 300 branded stores in Southern California.

“This retail expansion is a big part of our local approach that delivers a world-class experience to our customers, making it easier to take advantage of Sprint’s industry-leading value for unlimited data, talk and text, inviting every wireless shopper throughout Southern California to save with Sprint,” said Kevin Kunkel, Sprint’s regional president for Southern California, in a press release.

Sprint’s announcement also touted the carrier’s unlimited data plans, but interestingly didn’t mention its new promotion of a year of free, unlimited data for users who switch as many as five lines from other major carriers. The company has said previously it didn’t plan to promote the offering heavily, opting instead to lure new customers without spending vast sums on ad campaigns.

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. Sprint said it has spent “well over $1 billion” over the last five years to improve its network in Southern California.

Earlier this month it revealed plans to open more than five dozen new stores in New England, creating more than 450 jobs.

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.”