Over the past week, High Street retailers Phones 4U fell into administration, partly due to the fact that the UK networks withdrew their support for the independent retailer. While the networks have been blamed for the company’s demise – wrongly in my view – Vodafone has already come forward and saved 140 stores and 900 or so jobs in the process and now, EE is picking up some of their old stores as well. BBC News is reporting that the firm has agreed a deal to purchase 58 stores from the failed Phones 4U brand, saving some 359 jobs while doing so.
While Phones 4U’s collapse was fairly sudden, with EE deciding to pull out somewhat unexpectedly, we can’t say that this whole saga has been any sort of surprise to us as the company was laden with debt to the tune of £205 Million by their parent company, BC Investors. As a result, there was little chance of Vodafone or EE reaching a new deal with Phones 4U as the High Street retailer was unable to offer competitive terms due to their debt. Still, it seems that a break-up of Phones 4U seems like it’s going fairly well for those that used to work at the firm.
Currys and PC World stores will keep the 800 staff that work at Phones 4U kiosks up and down the country and with Vodafone and EE saving over a 1,000 jobs between them, it hopefully looks like not everyone will lose their jobs. Hopefully, O2 and Three could come to similar deals and save even further jobs, but right now, the news of EE saving stores will be welcome to staff that currently have a very uncertain future. Would the networks purchasing more stores to add to their own High Street presence be a good thing or will it just further stifle competition? Let us know what you think in the comments below.