High street mobile retailer Phones 4u has collapsed into administration after being dropped by its last remaining network partner EE.
In a statement last night, the group’s private equity owner BC Partners said it had no option but to call in administrators after being informed by EE that it would not be renewing its contract next year.
The retailer, which employs 5,596 staff and runs 720 outlets, including 550 standalone stores, said the decision had come as a “complete shock”.
Staff have been asked to report to work as normal today where they will be briefed by management. Stores will be closed until administrators at PwC decide on whether the business can re-open for trading.
The company said “it is intended” that employees would continue to be paid until further notice.
EE’s decision, which follows a strategic review, is the final nail in the coffin for Phones 4u after Vodafone announced earlier this month that it would not be extending its contract. O2 and Three have already pulled out.
Phone 4u chief executive David Kassler, said: “Today is a very sad day for our customers and our staff. If the mobile network operators decline to supply us, we do not have a business.”
He warned that the move by operators would result in less competition and higher prices for UK customers.
Stefano Quadrio Curzio of BC Partners launched an attack on EE, saying: “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.”
Phones 4u made £1bn turnover and £100m of profits last year.