Administrator closes 362 Phones 4u stores as 1,700 jobs go

Beleaguered mobile phone retailer Phones 4u is to close 362 stores, with the loss of nearly 1,700 jobs, administrators said tonight.

A further 720 staff have been retained to assist with the closure programme, PwC said.

It comes after Phones 4u went into administration last week following network operator EE's decision not to renew its contract.

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Administrator closes 362 Phones 4u stores as 1,700 jobs go

A shuttered Phones 4u store on Oxford Street in central London. Credit: PA Wire

The administrators of Phones 4u said tonight that 362 stores would close with the loss of almost 1,700 jobs.

Rob Hunt, joint administrator and partner at PwC, said: "It is with much regret that we have today made the difficult decision to close a large number of stores. It is a very sad day for the staff working at those locations and our thoughts are with them. We will make every effort to help the affected staff."

A further 720 staff have been kept on to assist with the closure programme.

The mobile phone retailer, which employed 5,600 people, collapsed last week after all three major mobile networks stopped dealing with the chain.

EE said earlier today it would buy 58 Phones 4u stores, saving 359 jobs, in a deal with PwC, while Vodafone said last week it would pick up 140 stores and keep 900 employees on.

Phone network EE to buy 58 Phones 4u stores

Phone network EE has said it will buy 58 Phones 4u stores - safeguarding 359 jobs - in a deal with administrator PwC.

The collapse of Phones 4u, which went into administration last week following EE's decision not to renew its contract, affected 5,600 workers at 560 Phones 4u stores and a further 160 concession outlets.

EE said the stores and 359 employees will be transferred with immediate effect. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

EE said the stores and 359 employees will be transferred with immediate effect, although the location of the shops has not been disclosed.

The stores will be re-branded to EE and it is planned that most will be opened in the next week.


900 Phones 4u jobs saved as Vodafone buys 140 stores

Phones 4u stores did not open on Monday after the company went into administration. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The jobs of 900 Phones 4u employees will be saved after Vodafone said it would buy 140 stores run by the retailer, which fell into administration earlier this week.

The network operator said it was approached by the Phones 4u administrator and decided to make an offer for the 140 stores, which was accepted. "Subject to court approval, we will start engaging with these employees and begin the rebranding of the stores to Vodafone as soon as possible," the company said.

However, 628 head office and telesales staff have been made redundant today by the administrators.

Dixons Carphone said on Wednesday it would take on 800 Phones 4u staff who worked in concessions in Currys/PC World stores. That still meant that almost 4,000 of the chain's 5,600 staff were set to lose their jobs.

The retailer collapsed after all three main network operators stopped dealing with the reseller.

Dixons Carphone hopes to take on 800 Phones 4u staff

Dixons Carphone has offered to take on 800 of the 5,600 staff who faced being out of work after the collapse of mobile phone retailer Phones 4u.

The jobs are for staff who currently work at Phones 4u concessions within Currys/PC World stores, which were recently taken over by Dixons Carphone.

A statement on the company website said: "With regards to our Phones 4U shop-in-shop colleagues we hope to help them secure new roles with us and are opening up discussions with the administrators to agree our position."

Dixons Carphone also tweeted that roles could be available for Phones 4u staff at Carphone Warehouse and Dixons.

More hope was offered by reports that network operators Vodafone and EE may be willing to buy part of Phones 4u's business.

Phones 4u founder hits out at 'ruthless' networks

The founder of mobile phone company Phones 4u has hit out at network operators for what he described as "ruthless behaviour".

John Caudwell, who sold the business in 2006, believes the company was driven into administration after networks began concentrating on selling directly to customers.

ITV News correspondent Lewis Vaughan Jones reports:


Phones 4u founder condemns 'collusion' by mobile networks

Phones 4u founder John Cauldwell Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

The founder of Phones 4u has claimed that Britain's big three mobile network operators made what appeared to be a "co-ordinated attempt to kill off" the retailer.

John Caudwell condemned the decision of O2, Vodafone and EE to cut ties with Phones 4u within the space of six months.

"What I find appalling is the way this has been done - the way the networks seemed to have worked in collusion," he told Sky News. "I'd love to be able to prove that point because if there was obvious proof of collusion, then that'd be extremely worrying."

Mr Caudwell added: "This network decision is extremely callous ... these things do happen but I've never seen such a ruthless, hard-hearted attempt to kill a company in my history in business."

He sold the retailer in 2006 to concentrate on philanthropic activities.

5,600 staff fear for jobs as Phones 4u closes doors

Thousands of Phones 4u workers fear they will lose their jobs after the retailer went into administration today.

The decision to appoint PwC to explore options for the business follows the decision by network operator EE - Phones 4u's last remaining partner - to hang up on its agreement.

ITV News' Lewis Vaughan Jones reports:

Phones 4u staff may get unpaid wages

Phones 4u went into administration today, putting 5,600 jobs in doubt. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The administrators of Phones 4u said that they hoped to pay the outstanding wages of its retailer's 5,600 employees, but could only do so if they were able to access the necessary funds.

PwC partner Rob Hunt said that its 700 outlets would remain closed while talks were held with possible buyers of some or all of the business. "We will also be talking to network operators and suppliers, and trying to access funds to pay for the costs of the business, including wages," he said.

Phones 4u staff were told to go to work today for briefings with management but the stores did not open.

The collapse of the retailer followed EE's decision to join Vodafone in cutting ties with the retailer, which sells contracts on behalf of the network operators.

All mobile contracts bought through Phones 4u will not be affected and the networks will continue to provide mobile services to customers.

Vodafone 'not to blame' for Phones 4u collapse

A Phones 4u store on Oxford Street in central London remained closed today following the company's collapse into administration. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Vodafone has rejected claims that it behaved inappropriately during its negotiations with Phones 4u, which collapsed into administration today at the cost of almost 6,000 jobs.

The mobile operator said the decision its contract with Phones 4u was made on "purely commercial reasons following extensive negotiations".

"Phones 4u was offered repeated opportunities to propose competitive distribution terms to enable us to conclude a new agreement, but was unable to do so on terms which were commercially viable for Vodafone," the company said.

The private equity firm BC Partners bought Phones 4u for £610m in 2011, and took a £225m dividend from the business last year, leaving it saddled with debt of more than £600m.

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