A year on, the demise of Phones 4u is still being felt

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Customer looks at closed Phones 4u shop in Angel

James Pearce says the 265 stores that still remain empty provide a reminder of how much the retailer’s collapse continues to affect the high street

It’s just over a year since Phones 4u collapsed but a report earlier this month from administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) highlighted how the retailer’s fall is still impacting the UK high street.

According to PwC, 265 former Phones 4u shops remain empty.

The sudden collapse, which came about after both Vodafone and EE opted not to extend their retail agreements with the company within a month of each other, shocked the mobile industry, and highlighted just how quickly any company can be put in peril.

The impact is still being felt now. Earlier this month, Dixons Carphone boss Sebastian James basked in the numbers after seeing first year sales rise 10 per cent. He warned not to expect comparable figures from the coming quarter, as last year’s numbers had been boosted by the downfall of Carphone’s biggest retail rival.

Both EE and Vodafone snapped up a number of stores after Phones 4u fell – almost 200 between them, saving more than 1,200 jobs.

It was the operators that received perhaps the most ire in the immediate aftermath a year ago, with Phones 4u founder John Caudwell firing accusations of collusion and “extremely callous” behaviour. For their part, the operators denied all wrong-doing and laid the blame at the feet of Phones 4u owners BC Partners.

Inevitably, through all the posturing and pandering, the true victims were forgotten That Phones 4u’s management failed to inform staff of the administration until the morning after the story broke was illustrative of the messy situation.

A year on, Phones 4u is rarely mentioned. But there remains scattered across the UK 265 reminders of just how quickly a retail giant can fall.

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