EE, Vodafone Acquire Phones 4U Stores

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Vodafone and EE have concluded deals with Phones4U’s administrators that will see the re-employment of more than 1,200 staff

Mobile network operator EE has confirmed it will acquire 58 shops from bankrupt retailer Phones 4U, following Vodafone’s acquisition of another 140 stores.

EE is to pay administrator PwC £2.5 million for Phones 4U’s interest in the stores’ leasehold properties, as well as fixtures, fittings and contractual rights and obligations, including the employment of 359 staff. Inventory is not included in the deal.

Phones 4u

Rebranding

The operator said it plans to rebrand the shops under its own name, with most to reopen within a week.

“As with the Vodafone transaction, we consider that this represents the best potential outcome for creditors in the circumstances, although it remains subject to the approval of the UK courts,” said Rob Hunt, joint administrator and PwC partner, in a statement.

Vodafone said on Friday it had agreed to buy 140 stores from PwC and re-employ their 887 staff as “a way to accelerate our retail expansion programme and save hundreds of jobs”.

“Our offer was accepted by the administrator and we are pleased to report that approximately 900 former Phones 4U employees will keep their jobs,” Vodafone said. “Subject to court approval, we will start engaging with these employees and begin the rebranding of the stores to Vodafone as soon as possible.”

Vodafone said the shops are to be reopened in the coming weeks.

Redundancies

Dixons Carphone has said it will take on 800 Phones 4U staff working concessions in Currys and PC World shops, meaning that of the 5,596 Phones 4U jobs affected by the bankruptcy, a total 2,046 staff have been re-employed, with 628 made redundant and another 2,922 for whom the outcome is yet to be decided.

The 628 cuts are to be made at Phones 4U’s head office in Newcastle-under-Lyme, according to PwC, which said it will retain more than 400 staff to support administrators.

The remaining interest from buyers is for parts of Phones 4U’s store portfolio and staff, according to PwC. Store staff have been asked to remain at home until talks are concluded about which shops will be acquired, the administrator said.

Phones 4U went into administration on 14 September after Vodafone and then EE cut their ties with the company, leaving it without any major suppliers. The company employed about 5,600 staff in about 700 outlets across the UK.

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