Following a trend in retail marketing, Bose announced the closure of all its retail stores in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia—a total of 119 outlets. About 130 Bose stores remain open in Greater China and the United Arab Emirates, with additional stores in India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea. 

Bose, headquartered in Framingham, Mass, reports that it opened its first store in the United States in 1993 to provide personal, private demonstrations for Wave music systems and Lifestyle home theater systems. As smartphones changed the industry, the company’s focus turned to mobile, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi solutions. Today, Bose noise-cancelling headphones, wireless sport earbuds, portable speakers, and smart speakers are increasingly purchased through e-commerce. The company sells its products primarily through its own website, as well as on Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Apple stores, and third-party retailers.

“Originally, our retail stores gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us about multi-component, CD and DVD-based home entertainment systems,” said Colette Burke, VP of Global Sales of Bose Corp in the company’s press announcement. “At the time, it was a radical idea, but we focused on what our customers needed, and where they needed it—and we’re doing the same thing now. It’s still difficult, because the decision impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day. They take care of every person who walks through our doors—whether that’s helping with a problem, giving expert advice, or just letting someone take a break and listen to great music. Over the years, they’ve set the standard for customer service. And everyone at Bose is grateful.”

The company says it will be offering outplacement assistance and severance to affected employees.

News of the its retail stores closing comes on the heels of Bose’s announcement in October that it would discontinue its Sleepbuds products. Sleepbuds were discontinued because “while the battery we chose functions safely, it doesn’t work as consistently or predictably as it should to meet our standards,” according to Bose General Manager John Roselli in an email to Bose customers that was subsequently published in Engadget

This string of news may have contributed to a rumor circulating within the hearing industry that Bose is closing its Health and Wellness division, which includes the Bose Hearing Aid, to concentrate on its core business and streamline revenues. A company spokesperson told The Hearing Review that “there is no accuracy to this information at all.”