It's no secret that Burton Snowboards has been expanding its direct-to-customer operations over recent years. From its original flagship stores in New York and Vermont to a state-of-the-art website that offers riders across the world the chance to buy new kit straight from the brand, it has been steadily moving beyond its traditional network of distributors and core stores.

Now comes the news that four more bricks and mortar Burton shops are opening in Europe – namely Annecy, Prague, Innsbruck and Munich. The idea is to strengthen its local roots in these key locations (read: cities near the mountains) and "to reach out to its community, tell its main product and marketing stories and to get to know and understand its customers even better."

The Prague and Annecy branches promise to offer a 'premium' retail experience much like the store that opened in Zurich just last year. Meanwhile, the Munich and Innsbruck shops will form part of two larger 'hub concepts' that bridge consumer and wholesaler needs.

"Disciples in Munich can worship at the altar of the Big B from autumn 2018"

Innsbruck, as gear nerds will already be aware, is home to Burton's European HQ – with an existing store attached to its offices in an industrial estate on the edge of the city. The new 250 square metre premises will be located firmly downtown at 13 Anichstrasse, and will be run in addition to the old shop.

Munich's mothership on Frauenstrasse is even larger, at 290 square meters, and will be welcoming disciples to worship at the altar of the Big B from autumn 2018. With a built-in showroom for official retailers to check out next year's products prior to ordering, we are told to expect the occasional sneak peek for the public too.

While all of this arguably adds to the pressure on struggling local shops, Burton maintains that its direct sales drive is simply about communicating its brand more effectively, and that core stores are still a vital cornerstone of its business – in fact various product lines are exclusively reserved for longstanding partners.

One thing's for sure: these flagship stores – combined with in-house web shopping – form part of a global trend that started with the likes of Apple and now includes most of the world's biggest brands. And it's a trend that's here to stay.