Mobile retailer Phones 4u is wrapping up its business in the U.K. following decisions by EE and Vodafone to discontinue sales of supported devices inside its stores. The company issued a statement confirming the news over the weekend, though now its site remains “offline” with only a splash page stating that the decisions by EE and Vodafone were “unexpected” and that the Phones 4u team is “heartbroken.”
The retailer’s 550 stores are currently closed and the company is entering administration, according to The Guardian, which said that 5,596 Phones 4u employees are set to lose their jobs. However, Dixons Carphone told The Guardian that it’s prepared to hire as many as 1,500 Phones 4u employees for jobs in its retail locations. “With regards to our Phones 4u shop-in-shop colleagues we hope to help them secure new jobs with us and will be opening up discussions with the administrators to agree what we can do,” a Dixons Carphone spokesperson told The Guardian.
“Vodafone has acted in exactly the opposite way to what they had consistently indicated to the management of Phones 4u over more than six months,” an executive with the Phones 4u parent company BC Partners told The Guardian. “Their behaviour appears to have been designed to inflict the maximum damage to their partner of 15 years, giving Phones 4u no time to develop commercial alternatives,” BC Partners exec Stefano Quadrio Curzio said. “EE’s decision on Friday is surprising in the context of a contract that has more than a year to run and leaves the board with no alternative but to seek the administrator’s protection in the interests of all its stakeholders.”