Vodafone has announced plans to open at least 24 new stores, bucking the downbeat high street trend.
The mobile phone business said it will take on the premises as part of its franchise programme as it ploughs investment into boosting its retail presence.
The new franchise stores will lead to at least 100 jobs and will involve an investment of approximately £5.5 million, Vodafone said.
Vodafone said it hopes the new stores, the first two of which opened this month in Morecambe, Lancashire, and St Austell, Cornwall, will help to “breathe life” into ailing high streets by taking on vacant premises.
New stores will help customers interested in new services such as 5G, and provide support and advice.
The company has more than 400 retail stores across the UK and has already added more than 50 new sites to its portfolio so far in 2019 as part of its major expansion plan.
It said it aims to open another 50 similar stores next year and is currently looking at suitable premises on the high street.
This is the first time the mobile operator has extended its franchise to include empty shops, meaning there is no upfront cost to franchisees.
Nick Jeffery, UK chief executive of Vodafone, said: “As a business with its roots in the UK, we are keen to do what we can to help local communities, whether that is giving local entrepreneurs the opportunity to be their own boss of a retail store or extending our network to remote areas.
“New services have helped us become the fastest-growing home broadband provider this year and attract thousands of new mobile customers every week.
“With this momentum, we are looking to extend our high street presence so that we can provide face-to-face advice and support to even more customers.”
Vodafone recently reported sliding first quarter revenues, driven by poor exchange rates, and revealed plans to spin off and potentially list its mobile towers business.