Retailer and troubled smartphone manufacturer ‘fell out’ over sales targets and rebates
Phones 4u is refusing to stock BlackBerry 10 handsets through its retail stores, following an alleged disagreement over targets and rebates.
Mobile News understands the pair fell out towards the end of last year, after Phones 4u failed to reach its BB10 handset (Q10, Z10, Q5, Z30) quarterly sales targets.
Sources close to both firms claim Phones 4u was unhappy with the subsequent loss of rebates from sales as part of the deal – and has subsequently withdrawn BB10 from its store shelves.
“The relationship in terms of BB10 handsets between Phones 4u and BlackBerry for its BB10 devices has completely broken down,” a source said. “If Phones 4u can’t make money from handsets, and BlackBerry sales have never been more difficult, then the incentive to sell them isn’t there.”
BlackBerry insisted last week Phones 4u remains a “key partner” and they continue to have a “strong partnership”, whilst a Phones 4u spokesperson claims the retailer continues to stock a “range of BlackBerry products” in store.
However, retail staff Mobile News spoke with disagreed – claiming all BB10 handsets have been removed from sale, with no option of ordering in additional stock.
When asked if other stores may have stock, they claimed stock levels across all 700 stores showed zero availability.
Stores we visited, including those on Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Street and Islington backed their claims, with all showing no BB10 handsets on display. Only the budget BB7-run BlackBerry 9720 (launched in August) was listed as available.
A dedicated floor to BlackBerry, called “BlackBerry Zone” in one of its Tottenham Court Road stores was also closed during our visit.
One staffer said: “Phones 4u no longer sells BB10 handsets.
“No official reason has ever been given, but we have been told not to expect stock for the forseeable future.” remains unaffected, showing stock of all BB10 devices currently in the market.
Distributor Tech Data Mobile, which has a distribution deal with BlackBerry, currently manages all online fulfilment for the retailer’s online business.
It is the latest blow to the struggling manufacturer, which has already seen its Z10 handset pulled from stock in EE and O2 stores, with the price in some instances falling more than £300 SIM-free.
Management trio depart
Three senior management staff are understood have left BlackBerry in the past month as a result of a wave of redundancies.
In September, BlackBerry announced around 4,500 job cuts were to be made by the end of 2013.
Those understood to have left BlackBerry’s UK team so far include senior commercial manager Sam Roberts after more than six years with the firm.
He has since been reunited with former BlackBerry UK MD Rob Orr, now UK VP for telecoms at Samsung.
BlackBerry channel manager Helen Berry, and accessory director EMEA Roger Nye are also said to have left, having each spent five years at the firm.
A BlackBerry spokesperson said: “We announced a number of months ago the difficult but necessary decision to implement head-count reductions of approximately 40 per cent of our global workforce.
“We do not comment on individual employee departures.”