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UK MOBILE OPERATOR Vodafone has become the latest network to call time on its relationship with Phones 4u, following in the footsteps of O2 and Three.
Vodafone dealt the blow this week, announcing that it would not renew its network agreement with Phones 4u that expires in February, as it instead moves to "enhance" its partnership with newly-formed retailer Dixons Carphone.
"Earlier this year Vodafone UK said it was reviewing its distribution strategies in the UK and that it would be opening a further 150 stores and creating 1,400 new jobs," said a Vodafone spokesperson.
"As part of that review, Vodafone today confirms that it will be enhancing its distribution partnership with Dixons Carphone from early next year and will not be extending its existing contract with Phones 4u, which expires in February 2015.
"We will continue to work with a range of other indirect partners, who represent an important part of our business mix."
Phones 4u said it was disappointed by Vodafone's decision, not surprising given that the operator accounted for more than a quarter of contracts taken out at the retailer, bringing in around £18.5m in earnings for the phone shop, according to the Financial Times.
Phones 4u CEO David Kassler said, "Although we are disappointed with the decision by Vodafone, Phones 4u continues to trade well in the market."
Vodafone ditching Phones 4u means that EE is the only big mobile operator left selling in its stores - although the future of that contract is also reportedly in question, with a "review taking place at the telecoms group".
Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Virgin Media can still be found at Phones 4u, and the retailer also has its own mobile service called Life Mobile.
"We have high levels of market share, especially in the youth segment, and our own network Life Mobile, which was launched in 2013, is now fully road-tested and enjoying a great first year with customer growth ahead of our expectations," Kassler added. µ