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EE may abandon Carphone Warehouse following Dixons merger

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EE's review of consumer strategy could also see the UK's biggest mobile network pull out of Phones4U stores too

EE, the UK’s largest mobile network, may be considering a withdrawal from the Carphone Warehouse as part of its review of consumer strategy – a move that would see the company going its own way on the high street and the Carphone Warehouse struggling to live up to its claim of being the best place for consumers to independently compare deals from every mobile network.

An announcement is expected from EE “within weeks” according to The Telegraph, and would come as a major blow to the Carphone Warehouse following its recent £3.2 billion merger between the Dixons group.

With 780 stores nationwide, the Carphone Warehouse has a bigger high street presence than any of the individual mobile retailers, but EE is arguably the best-placed network to sever ties with the group: it has a one-third share of the UK market with over 30 million customers, the fastest 4G speeds available in the country and has plans to open a further 50 EE stores in towns where it doesn’t already have a presence. It would follow a similar move by rival network Three, which ended its partnership with Phones4U in 2012 in order to concentrate on its own stores.

The review also covers the partnership with Phone4U, Carphone Warehouse’s main competition on the high street. According to the report, EE could pull out from either Phones4U or the Carphone Warehouse, or both – leaving the company with its own stores as the only way to pick up a new EE phone on the high street.

An EE spokesman said: “While we do not comment specifically on ongoing negotiations, we can confirm that we’re formally reviewing our distribution strategy, primarily in the consumer space, with a view to fewer, deeper partnerships, based on value and shared ambitions.”

Should EE go ahead and sever ties with the Carphone Warehouse, it would leave the chain with just Vodafone and O2 as the two remaining major networks. We should find out EE’s decision in the next few weeks.

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