Retail: Phones 4u stores to remain closed as administrators move in

Phones 4u stores will remain closed today, according to the company's administrators.

Phones 4u stores will remain closed today, according to the company's administrators. - Credit: PA

Phones 4u stores will remained closed today as the company’s administrators seek to salvage the stricken retailer.

Nearly 5,600 jobs are at risk at the company after mobile network operators including O2, Vodafone and EE decided not to renew airtime partnerships.

Phones 4u’s 550 standalone stores failed to open for business yesterday, ahead of the appointment of administrators from accountancy firm PwC, and a spokesman for PwC said last night that they would remained closed today.

Rob Hunt, a partner at PwC and one of the three joint administrators, said: “This is a very sad day for the business and the many people working there. In light of our impending appointment the directors understandably took the decision to close all the shops today and sent many staff home.

“Our initial focus will be to quickly engage with parties who may be interested in acquiring all or part of the business, and to better understand the financial position and options for the company. The stores will remain closed while we have these conversations.

“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.

“These conversations will determine whether we can re-open stores and trade, and also if and when we can pay the arrears of wages to employees. Our hope is that we will be able to pay all the outstanding wages arrears.”

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In addition to its retail operations, which also include 150 concessions within Currys and PC World stores, also runs its own network operator, Life Mobile, which is also in administration.

Within Suffolk and north Essex, the Phones 4u branch network is understood to include stores in Ipswich, Colchester, Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, Lowestoft, Haverhill, Clacton-on-Sea and Braintree.

Mobile network operators are increasingly targeting sales through their own stores while Phones 4u’s rival Dixons Carphone, created through the recent merger of Carphone Warehouse and PC World and Currys owner Dixons Retail, has been more successful in building relationships with operators.

Phones 4u’s concessions at Currys/PC World stores are also due to come to an end, following the merger of Dixons with Carphone Warehouse.

Network contracts purchased through Phones 4u will continue and customers who have paid for phones they have yet to receive are expected to receive their money back in full.