Phones 4U and CPW set to increase high-street dominance

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Phones 4U has already opened eight new stores this year as it pushes to close gap with Carphone Warehouse, which is concentrating on new Wireless World shop format

Phones 4U has told Mobile News it will expand its nationwide retail footprint at “pace” over the next 12 months, as it looks to close the gap on high-street rival Carphone Warehouse.

Phones 4U is the second-largest mobile phone retailer in the UK, with 528 stores. Carphone Warehouse has 820.

But Phones 4U said last week it is now looking to grow its retail presence further over the next year, by adding new stand-alone retail stores, as well as continuing its concessionary strategy with DSGi’s retail arms Currys Digital and PC World.

Phones 4U recently opened its 70th concession store since partnering with DSGi in July 2010. Located inside Currys at the Bluewater shopping centre, the store opened at the end of last month.

Phones 4U told Mobile News it will take that number to 80 this month, but declined to say in which areas they will be located. It also revealed it has now opened eight stand-alone stores so far this year. These include stores in Newquay, Hereford, Wythenshawe, Chelmsley Wood, Dudley, Leicester and Newton Abbot.

It has also relocated existing stores in Croydon and Hereford to larger premises in recent months.

Sources within network operators have said Phones 4U has plans for up to 100 new stores this year, as it looks to compete with rival Carphone Warehouse.

Phones 4U retail development director John Welsh said the company had not committed to a fixed number of store openings for 2011 however.

Welsh said: “Store openings will continue at pace throughout the year as we con- tinue to look for and maximise opportunities to further grow and expand our retail presence on the high street.

“So far this year Phones 4U has opened eight new stand-alone stores and 17 stores within DSGi.

“We commit to opening new stores within DSGi and our own units where there are suitable opportunities to gain market share.”

The expansion reflects the ambitions of the retailer’s new owners, BC Partners, which bought it for £700 million in March.Phones 4U saw sales increase 20 per cent in 2010 to more than £900 million.

Meanwhile Carphone Warehouse has confirmed plans of its own to expand its retail presence in the UK and across Europe.

Carphone Warehouse PLC has more than 17,000 stores in total. The retailer said it will be opening up to 450 of its Wireless World stores, which include other electronic items such as games consoles and televisions, by the end of March 2012.

Carphone said the “majority” of these stores will be in the UK and be a mix of new and existing locations.

It said it wants to convert its entire retail estate to the Wireless World format – which aims to provide more connectivity products such as tablets to customers by 2016.

O2 – which closed 40 stores earlier this year – and Vodafone said they had no plans to increase current store numbers.

Everything Everywhere said last month it will add 30 new stores this year. Three is also understood to be opening more stores.

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