Samsung Expands Retail Presence in Europe and North America

Samsung has become the largest smartphone maker worldwide without having many of its own retail stores. Since its growth has slowed while faced with a variety of cheaper models from rivals, Samsung is looking to expand its retail presence in North America and Europe. In the next few months Samsung is planning to open around 60 stores in Europe, and 90 kiosks in Canada. The company has no independent retail stores in the U.S., but teamed up with Best Buy last year to create 1,400 “store-in-store” kiosks.

Samsung first tested its retail stores and brand shops in Asia to great success. There are over 100 Samsung stores in Seoul, and numerous brand shops in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China.

This effort to expand its retail presence also comes from competing against a new wave of handset makers that sell smartphones using the Android operating system. In the global market, Samsung has a third of the smartphone market share, whereas the number is much lower in the U.S. and Canada.

“In the fourth quarter, the company’s profit growth slowed sharply due to stiff competition in the mobile market, where it derives the majority of its profit,” reports The Wall Street Journal. 

Although Samsung has driven sales through shelf space in carrier shops in the past, the company is looking to establish a stronger brand identity through opening more retail shops. The article notes that Apple’s success largely came from its 420 global retail stores.

Samsung hired Tim Gudgel away from Apple in December. Gudgel played a key role in designing the Apple retail stores. In contrast to Apple’s model of closely controlling its own retail stores, Samsung will work with mobile retailers Carphone Warehouse Group and and Phones4U, while considering deals with other European retailers.

“The markets where Samsung is really buying up more shelf space, Apple is particularly strong, so I don’t think that is a coincidence,” says Kevin Restivo, an analyst at market research firm IDC.