The iconic Virgin Megastores branch at the Opera House building in Beirut Central District has closed down. The decision was taken as part of the company's strategy to shift operations from retail streets to malls, according to former minister Marwan Kheireddine, the major shareholder of Megastores of Lebanon, the local franchisee.
Kheireddine said: "The trend in shopping has moved from standalone shops to malls. The second reason is because there is lack of demand for CDs and DVDs." Listeners have increasingly relied on online sources to listen to music and watch movies.
The share of music sales has gradually slipped in favor of electronics and multimedia.
The flagship Opera House location, which is over 2,200 square meters, had departments for books, multimedia, gaming, and computer hardware and electronics.
The Martyrs Square branch also suffered from high operational costs. The annual rent reached $1 million at one point. Maintenance fees touched $150,000. The number of employees, totaling 230, was also considered high. The staff has been redirected to other branches.
"We plan to keep going. This move is not intended to reduce our local presence," Kheireddine said.
According to company figures, Virgin has a 75 percent market share of the entertainment business, which includes gaming, multimedia, and gadgets.
The four-story branch was inaugurated in 2001 in the presence of Richard Branson.
Virgin Megastores can be found in City Mall, City Centre Beirut, Downtown Souks, all three ABC malls, and Beirut Airport Duty Free. The most recent opening was in ABC Verdun.