James: New-age mobile retail


Despite footfall picking up after a long and painful slump, as seen in Carphone and Phones 4U, everyone is addressing the new market.

Those with massive scale, the high street independent and network multiples, are honing staff behaviour to focus on profitability and revenue generation for suppliers.

Those with less scale (remaining dealer chains), or those closer to the source (networks, again) are finding easy new and healthy opportunities in franchises.

JAG and Fonehouse are madly active in this space, freeing themselves of risk whilst retaining their business value in their brand and base. They are ready for sale still, despite stepping back from the coalface.

O2 is running an expansive franchise programme in the UK and Ireland also. In Ireland, it has clearly marked out a new map of retail, comprising many fewer outlets, more tightly controlled and focused.

In the UK, Orange is said to be readying a franchise programme too. And Vodafone and T-Mobile have one foot in franchising already via Fonehouse.

The anomaly in all of this is Get Connected, which cannot simply hone staff behaviour, expand its portfolio and maintain its estate by scale alone. It is just extremely focused, picks its opportunities (suddenly common in this climate), and advances steadily.