EIGHT Phones 4U stores in the Portsmouth area are closed today as the company prepares to go into administration.
All of the firm’s 550 stores will remain closed today – putting 5,596 jobs at risk.
Phones 4U has blamed the move on mobile networks Vodafone and EE’s decision not to renew their contracts.
Staff are still being told to go to work as normal, where they would be given further details of what happens next.
Branches closed locally are the Phones 4U stores in Commercial Road, Portsmouth; Burrfields Road, Portsmouth; High Street, Gosport; Westbury Mall, Fareham; West Street, Havant; London Road, Waterlooville; and North Street, Chichester.
The company said established mobile contracts taken out through Phones 4U would not be affected, although phones ordered and not despatched – for example anyone ordering the new iPhone 6 over the weekend – would be.
A customer service line will be open from 9am.
David Kassler, chief executive of Phones 4U, said: ‘If mobile network operators decline to supply us, we do not have a business.
‘It’s a good company making profits of more than £100m, employing thousands of decent people has been forced into administration.’
The company is owned by private equity firm BC Partners.
Stefano Quadrio Curzio, from BC Partners, said: ‘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.’
PricewaterhouseCoopers is expected to be appointed as administrator today, and will decide on whether the business can continue to trade.
A spokesperson for EE said the decision not to renew its contract with Phones 4U was “driven by developments in the marketplace that have called into question the long term viability of the Phones 4U business”.
The spokesperson added that the decision was also “in line with our strategy to focus on growth in our direct channels”.
Phones 4U was set up by the entrepreneur John Caudwell in the middle of the 1980s and sold for £1.5bn around 20 years later.
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