Wires

UPDATE 1-Vodafone to close 15% of European stores

(Adds quote, background)

DUESSELDORF, Germany, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Vodafone will shut 15% of stores in Europe and upgrade some of the remaining outlets as customers buy online and change their expectations of in-store shopping, chief executive Nick Read said on Tuesday.

The group will overhaul its 7,700 stores in Europe, offering more services at 40% of them by the end of 2021, Read said.

Customer service offered by Apple and Amazon had changed expectations, and Vodafone hopes to improve its services faster than former incumbent rivals like BT, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica with targeted and personalized marketing, he said.

"If you believe that 40% of your transactions are going to be digital, then how does that impact why someone goes to a store. The journeys and the purpose of the store changes," Read told reporters at a briefing in Duesseldorf in Germany.

"(That) means that we will have more 'experience' stores, less standard format stores (and) more convenience, and kiosk and click-to-collect stores."

Vodafone, however, plans to continue store openings in Britain.

In September, it announced plans to open 24 new franchise stores in Britain this year, and it is examining the possibility of opening 50 more stores in 2020. (Reporting by Paul Sandle, Writing by Alistair Smout, editing by Deepa Babington)