By Stuart Condie 
 

SYDNEY--Telstra Corp. Ltd. will take full ownership of its retail store network in Australia, saying the Covid-19 pandemic had shown the value of integrating its physical and digital services.

Australia's largest communications provider on Thursday said it will begin talks with ASX-listed Vita Group Ltd., which operates 104 of 337 Telstra-branded stores. Telstra already owns and operates 67 stores, with another 166 run by licensees.

With retail stores closed or underused during coronavirus lockdowns, Telstra said it had been able to redeploy staff from Telstra-owned stores to assist customers through digital channels or over the phone.

"It's this flexibility in how we serve our customers that we'll be able to unlock with more retail branded stores under Telstra ownership," said Michael Ackland, Telstra's Group Executive for Consumer and Small Business.

Telstra said it planned to transition the majority of staff from licensed stores to company employment, but did not say how many jobs would be affected.

 

Write to Stuart Condie at stuart.condie@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 10, 2021 17:19 ET (22:19 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.