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Loblaw gets into mobile phone market


Loblaw Cos. Ltd. announced Tuesday it will open up to 100 full service mobile phone shops within its stores by year end, with another 100 set to open next year.

“The Mobile Shop will simplify the way Canadians shop for wireless devices,” said Maria Forlini, senior vice-president, PC Services. “By offering our customers great choice, convenience and trusted, objective advice, we’re confident The Mobile Shop will provide consumers with the best wireless shopping experience in Canada.”

Added Forlini, “At The Mobile Shop, we play an advisory role to ensure our customers’ get the right phone and the right plan in order to help them get the most out of their mobile experience – all in one easy and convenient location.”

The 80-sq.-ft. shops will carry more than 50 handsets, mostly smart phone and tablets, according to a Globe and Mail report.

In addition, the shops will offer monthly subscription-based plans from major carriers, such as Bell and Rogers and its own in-house brand PC Mobile.

As a result of the new venture, Loblaw is hiring 400 new employees, mostly full-timers, to staff the mobile shops this year, and another 400 next year.

The first outlets will open first in its larger Loblaws, Zehrs and Real Canadian SuperStores, starting in Ontario and expanding westward.

Already, the grocer operates 500 self-serve mobile phone kiosks, with some 27 mobile models, offering mainly prepaid service.

But Loblaw is facing stiff competition as others such as Shoppers Drug Mart and Canadian Tire Corp. offer more mobile phones and tablets, too.

Analysts see this as additional distribution for telecom carriers at grocery stores that draw more traffic than their own outlets–some 14 million customers pass through Loblaw’s more than 1,000 stores every week.

The Mobile Shop is part of PC Telecom, a division of Loblaws Inc., which includes PC branded mobile products and services.

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