Phones 4u goes bust - 5,500 jobs at risk

Phones 4u call administrators

Phones 4u is to go into administration - placing more than 5,500 jobs at risk - after network operator EE joined Vodafone in cutting ties with the retailer.

The company said its stores will be closed today pending a decision by the administrators on whether the business can be reopened for trading.

Phones 4u said the decision by EE not to renew its current contract, which is due to end in September next year, was a "complete shock" and meant it would be left without a single network partner after Vodafone said earlier this month that it would not extend its agreement.

The company, which is owned by private equity firm BC Partners, has 550 standalone stores, employing 5,596 people.

How to invest like Warren Buffett

'A very sad day'

Phones 4u chief executive David Kassler said last night: "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. A good company making profits of over £100 million, employing thousands of decent people has been forced into administration.

"The great service we have provided should have guaranteed a strong future, but unfortunately our network partners have decided otherwise. The ultimate result will be less competition, less choice and higher prices for mobile customers in the UK."

Staff have been asked to report to work as normal this morning as they will be briefed by management.

How to invest like Warren Buffett

£1 billion turnover

The business was set up by entrepreneur John Caudwell in the mid-1980s. By the time he sold it for £1.5 billion in 2006 it was selling 26 phones a minute and employed 10,000 people. It generated sales of more than £2.25 billion.

Phones 4u said it remained a profitable business, with turnover of over £1 billion, underlying earnings of £105 million in 2013 and significant cash in the bank.

It said: "The unexpected decisions by both Vodafone and EE have come as a complete shock to the business. The company is in a healthy state and both EE and Vodafone had, until very recently, consistently indicated that they saw Phones 4u as a long-term strategic partner."

The end of Vodafone's relationship with Phones 4u in February will see it enhance its distribution partnership with Dixons Carphone - the business recently created from the merger of Carphone Warehouse with the owner of PC World and Currys.

The Vodafone tie-up with Phones 4u represented some £212 million of sales and about £18.5 million of earnings in the year to July 31.

Mobile News: Customers of Phones 4u 'Shouldn't Be Worried'

How to invest like Warren Buffett

Vodafone 'not acted as expected'

Stefano Quadrio Curzio, a representative of BC Partners, said: "Our overriding concern is for all the dedicated, hard-working employees of Phones 4u at a time of uncertainty for the company.

"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. 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.

"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."

Phones 4u said all mobile contracts bought through Phones 4u will remain unaffected and the networks will continue to provide mobile services to these customers.

The process of appointing PwC as an administrator is expected to take place today.

Related stories on AOL Money

La Senza goes into administration

Royal Mail sale errors 'cost £1bn'

10 well-paid jobs that are open to all

Five of the most fascinating companies
See Gallery
Phones 4u goes bust - 5,500 jobs at risk

Not many companies have films made about them. But the story of social networking site Facebook attracted enough attention to interest Hollywood, resulting in the 2010 film The Social Network. The interest was not just due to the immense popularity of the Facebook website, which was created in its earliest form by Harvard University student Mark Zuckerburg in 2004, though. It was also a result of the legal wrangling between Zuckerburg and fellow Harvard students Divya Narendra and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who founded the social networking site ConnectU and accused Zuckerberg - who worked for them before creating Facebook - of copying their ideas and coding. In something of a damp squib ending, however, the case was dismissed due to a technicality in March 2007 without a ruling being made.

Most of the companies on this list are household names. However, comparatively few people have heard of Olam International, despite it being one of the world's largest agricultural commodity companies.

In fact, it produces enough cotton to keep everyone in the world in socks (three pairs per person, per year).

Fans of chocolate bars such as Mars are also sure to have consumed chocolate made from beans handled by Olam - they just don't realise it.

Headquartered in Singapore, Olam was founded in 1989. It now purchases ingredients such as coffee and cocoa from around 3.5 million smallholder famers based in emerging markets around the world. This enables it to work with communities in rural Africa and Asia on everything from productivity to environmental impact, resulting in a potentially huge impact on some of the world's poorest people.

Love them or hate them, Starbucks coffee shops are everywhere nowadays. Hardly surprising when you consider that the company has opened an average of two stores a day since 1987 (despite having to close some locations down too).
However, back in 1971 there was just one Starbucks coffee shop, in Seattle, Washington.
Named after Starbuck, the first mate on the whaling ship in the novel Moby Dick, the shop originally sold roasted coffee, but did not brew coffee to sell.
Now, though, you can get everything from a blueberry muffin to a mocha frappuccino from your local Starbucks store.

According to the company the white ribbon was introduced under the name in 1969. When competitors first entered the market, Coke made much of its curved bottle design which distinguished it from those that followed. As fewer and fewer people drank from bottles, the ribbon was produced as an alternative distinctive curve.

According to mokokoma, the apple is the fruit of the tree of knowledge. There is some question as to whether the bite taken out of it is a play on the word byte, symbolism of the fruit being eaten and the knowledge imparted, or just to make it look more like an apple and less like a cherry tomato.

Read Full Story