LONDON (AFP) – Collapsed British mobile phone seller Phones 4u is to close 362 shops with the loss of nearly 1,700 jobs, almost a third of its staff, administrators said on Monday.
“It is a very sad day for the staff working at those locations and our thoughts are with them,” said PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), administrators brought in by the troubled company in a bid for it to remain in operation.
Phones4u, owned by private equity firm BC Partners, had a turnover of £1 billion ($1.63 billion, 1.27 billion euros) with 700 shops employing 5,596 people across Britain before it collapsed last week.
Britain’s biggest mobile operator EE said it would buy 58 of those stores, saving 360 jobs at the retail chain, which went into administration a week ago.
On Friday, mobile phone giant Vodafone agreed with PwC to buy another 140 Phones 4u stores, safeguarding 887 jobs.
But the remaining stores which did not find takers would now close.
Phones 4u had said it was forced into administration after EE declined to renew a contract to sell devices through the dealer, following a similar decision by Vodafone, putting over 5,500 jobs at risk.
The retail network’s founder John Caudwell, who set up Phones 4u in the 1980s and sold it in 2006, has accused the mobile phone networks of causing the collapse of the retailer.
Vodafone has denied any suggestion it acted inappropriately in negotiations with Phones 4u.
EE has said its decision not to renew its contract, which triggered the collapse of Phones 4u as it was left without any network partners, was partly driven by concerns about the long-term viability of the retailer.