Digital has killed off ABC Shops as broadcaster closes stores for online

The Wiggles. Photo: Getty Images

The ABC is getting out of retail, with managing director Mark Scott announcing the national broadcaster is closing its ABC shops to focus on online and ABC-branded outlets in other retailers. Around 300 people will lose their jobs.

Scott said the retail business was now unsustainable.

“They made a lot of money. They’re not making money now,” he said.

Despite selling strong brands such as Dr Who, Bananas in Pyjamas and The Wiggles, the mainstay of the business was DVDs and CDs, which have moved online, and increasingly can be accessed for free via video on demand and streaming services.

ABC commercial director Robert Patterson said that after 35 years change was needed.

“This strategy will create a more cost effective, nimble and flexible approach to servicing customers,” he said.

“This direction is also in keeping with the shift of ABC audiences to accessing content across an array of digital platforms, while maintaining an appropriate level of physical retail distribution.

“The ABC is confident that this new strategy will ensure continued audience engagement. Consumers will still be able to purchase much loved content both online and in stores.”

ABC Retail will review the lease arrangements for its 50 stores, which employ around 300 people, to implement its “phased exit” strategy. The organisation has 78 outlets in other stores.

Head of retail Regina Hoekstra said the organisation will focus on staff redundancies in the coming months.

“We are conscious that the ABC Shop is close to the hearts of our teams and we appreciate their ongoing hard work and dedication,” she said. “ABC Retail will continue to adapt to an ever-changing retail climate in order to provide a sustainable retailing experience for customers.”

The ABC releases around 1000 new products annually.