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UPDATE 1-South African mobile operator Cell C to close 128 stores, affecting 546 jobs

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JOHANNESBURG, Aug 21 (Reuters) - South African mobile operator Cell C said on Friday it expects to close around 128 stores across the country, more than half of its retail footprint, with 546 jobs on the line as it seeks to cut costs and restructure its operations.

The job cuts will be in addition to Cell C’s plans to lay off 960 workers, announced in June.

“The retail environment has changed and this has been fast-tracked by the impact of COVID-19 and the evolving purchasing habits of consumers,” Cell C, which is not listed and is 45% owned by Blue Label Telecoms, said in a statement.

“Much like banks are moving away from brick and mortar branches, Cell C is embracing digital solutions and driving digital inclusion by leveraging collaborations and partnerships.”

The company has a workforce of 2,500 and 240 stores.

The consultation process for the job cuts announced in June started on July 30 and the company said it subsequently made a voluntary severance package offer.

Earlier this month Cell C said it was making good progress with finalising its recapitalisation plan that will improve its liquidity and debt profile. (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla Editing by Emma Rumney and Susan Fenton)

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