A1 Comms looks to repair dented confidence in Go Mobile stores

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Firm looks to boost revenues by £30m by re-entering the high street

A1 Comms has vowed to remove the stigma that has engulfed Go Mobile in recent months following its purchase of the retailer from Shebang Technologies Group earlier this month.

The firm, which is based in Alfreton, Derbyshire, acquired 100 Go Mobile retail stores across the UK running off Shebang’s Purple Partnership franchise programme this month – details on the acquisition fee have not been revealed.

A number of Go Mobile franchisees have contacted Mobile News claiming Shebang has failed to pay rent on their shops for up to three months, which they claim has resulted in bailiffs closing down the outlets. They have also claimed Shebang has been up to a week late in paying wages and commissions.

At the end of last month a number of franchisees also claimed hardware distributor BrightPoint had frozen the accounts of all Go Mobile stores. They said their businesses were being “strangled” because they were not able to order new stock. Similar stories have emerged from 20:20 Mobile also.

A1 Comms managing director Paul Sisson said the problems that have arisen in relation to Go Mobile will not reappear and that he would ensure franchisees have the tools to be
successful individually and drive revenue for the company.

He said: “I wouldn’t be buying the business if I didn’t have the intention of running it in a professional manner.

“We’re going to run the business to the best of our ability, which includes paying rent, commissions and wages on time and ensuring franchisees have the phones to sell, and all the brands and networks available to them.

“We don’t have any immediate plans to change anything or open more shops. Our first target is to ensure that all shops are trading well and making money for both the franchisees and ourselves. When we’ve established that they’re doing that, then we can consider opening more shops.”

As part of the deal, A1 Comms has also bought Shebang’s online retail business, Affordable Mobiles, which adds to its own online retail operations, BuyMobilePhones.net and
Mobileshop.com.

The move also marks A1’s return to the high street, having closed stores in 2006 to focus on the internet.

It said previously it was tracking to almost double turnover to £90 million in the financial year to March 31, 2013, and is now confident the purchase will increase that figure by 25 per cent to £120 million. All brands bought will remain in place, as will the store design employed by Shebang.

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