Belfast Telegraph

Nine Phones 4u stores to close in Northern Ireland: 37 jobs lost

Four other stores will remain open

By John Mulgrew

The bulk of Phones 4u stores across Northern Ireland are closing with the loss of 37 jobs.

The beleaguered mobile phone retailer is shutting 362 stores throughout the UK, with the loss of nearly 1,700 staff.

Nine stores will be closed in Northern Ireland, while four will remain open.

Those to close include stores at Donegall Place and Castle Lane in Belfast, Foyleside Shopping Centre, Londonderry; Bow Street Mall, Lisburn; Buttercrane Shopping Centre, Newry;  Ards Shopping Centre ; Rushmere Shopping Centre, Craigavon; Church Street, Coleraine.

The losses come after the collapse of the firm, following a decision by network EE to join Vodafone in cutting its ties with the retailer earlier this month.

The company's founder, John Caudwell - who set up the operation in the 1980s before selling it for £1.5 billion in 2006 -  had said he was "sickened and saddened" for the nearly staff who work at the Staffordshire-based firm.

Phones 4u had an annual turnover of £1 billion, with more than 700 stores and a total of 5,596 employees.

But the firm collapsed as EE and Vodafone pulled out of long-standing deals to sell devices through the retailer.

Yesterday, EE said it would buy 58 Phones 4u stores in a deal saving more than 350 jobs.

The agreement with administrator PwC comes after Vodafone said on Friday it would buy another 140 stores, safeguarding 887 jobs.

Dixons Carphone has already said it will take on the 800 staff who worked at 160 Phones 4u sites within Currys/PC World stores.

Rob Hunt of administrators PwC said it was a "very sad day for the staff working at those locations and our thoughts are with them".

"It is with much regret that we have today made the difficult decision to close a large number of stores," he said.

"We will make every effort to help the affected staff, working with the Phones 4u HR team over the coming days to support employees."

Speaking about the threat to the Northern Ireland jobs earlier this month, Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association said the phone firm's administration was a "sad loss to our local high streets and shopping centres."

"When any store closes it always reduces footfall for surrounding traders and creates another unwanted shop vacancy," he said.

"Mobile phone shops are now a major part of our town centre retail offer and so when a large chain like Phones 4u closes stores in Northern Ireland, it has significant impact."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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