Microsoft Mulling European Retail Stores
Microsoft is eyeing Europe as the next beachhead in its retail store expansion. The company has been scouting U.K. locations for its first European flagship stores and talking to landlords there, a person familiar with the discussions told the Financial Times. Microsoft plans to open those stores next year, assuming their predecessors in the U.S. are performing as expected.
Microsoft has been aggressively expanding its retail presence in support of the launch of Windows 8 and its new Surface tablet. But that expansion has been limited to the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, and a number of the stores it has opened recently are pop-up holiday kiosks that presumably will close up shop come January.
Since Microsoft plans to sell the Surface only through its own retail stores and Microsoft.com, it’s clearly in the company’s best interests to expand its retail footprint. Right now, consumers curious about Surface have very, very few locations where they can have some hands-on time with the device. That will inevitably limit sales — not exactly a winning strategy for a new product that Microsoft has so much riding on. Hence the company’s plan to open 75 brick-and-mortar storefronts over the next two to three years. As Microsoft COO Kevin Turner said earlier this year, “We’re going to continue to build and roll out more stores. And we’re going to keep going more and more pervasive. And you’ll see the store brand continue to go out and go out into the world with the opportunity we believe we have to tell the Microsoft story.”
Microsoft declined comment.