Phones 4u founder John Caudwell has blamed the “extremely callous” mobile networks for the unpredictable demise of the UK mobile phone retailer, leaving over 5,596 jobs at more than 700 outlets under threat.
Phones4U plunged into administration this Sunday after its key mobile supplier EE notified it would no longer continue business relationship with the UK retailer.
Commenting on the mobile retailer’s shocking assassination, the billionaire founder said O2, Vodafone and EE’s decision to not to renew their contracts with Phones4U, which comes within six months of each other, appeared to be a “co-ordinated attempt to kill off” the retailer.
Caudwell, who started the chain of phone shops in the 1980s and sold it for £1.5bn in 2006, said he suspects the mobile network companies may have colluded to remove Phones4U from the high street in an attempt to reduce competition and fatten their margins, but admits that he has no evidence to prove the same.
Caudwell said he was “sickened and saddened” for the nearly 6,000 staff employed at the Staffordshire-based firm and that he had never seen “such a ruthless, hard-hearted attempt to kill a company”.
He added that he has called out the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate into the network operator’s actions.
The mobile firms O2, Vodafone and EE straightly rejected Caudwell’s claims. While EE claimed its decision to end its relationship with Phones 4U was based on its strategy to focus on its own shops and cut out intermediaries, Vodafone said it rejected any suggestion that it behaved inappropriately while negotiating with Phones4U and indicated that the retailer’s debt repayment schedule affected the discussions.
An O2 spokesperson said the company’s decision to cut business tie-up with Phones4U was taken way back in 2012 as part of its regular sales distribution review.