Technology giant Microsoft is to close all 83 shops globally and focus on selling online instead.

Microsoft, which opened a UK flagship a year ago at London’s Oxford Circus and launched shops in a bid to compete with Apple stores, took the decision as its digital proposition grows.

However, the technology business looks likely to maintain some sort of presence on Oxford Circus. It said it would “reimagine spaces that serve all customers, including operating Microsoft Experience Centers in London, NYC, Sydney and Redmond campus locations”.

The company said that, after the closure of Microsoft Store branches, “retail team members will continue to serve customers from Microsoft corporate facilities and remotely providing sales, training and support”.

Microsoft will “continue to invest in its digital storefronts on, and stores in Xbox and Windows”, which it said reach more than 1.2 billion people per month in 190 markets.

Microsoft corporate vice-president David Porter said: “Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location.”

The decision follows the closure of Microsoft shops during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Porter said: “We deliberately built teams with unique backgrounds and skills that could serve customers from anywhere. The evolution of our workforce ensured we could continue to serve customers of all sizes when they needed us most, working remotely these last months.

“It is a new day for how Microsoft Store team members will serve all customers. We are energised about the opportunity to innovate in how we engage with all customers, maximise our talent for greatest impact and, most importantly, help our valued customers achieve more.”