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The UK's biggest phone store chain is closing all of its outlets

Daniel Cooper
Senior Editor

The UK's only remaining independent phone store is closing its vast network of retail locations on April 3rd, 2020. Dixons Carphone, owner of Currys PCWorld and Carphone Warehouse (CPW), will shutter the latter's 531 outlets at the start of next month. The company says it will focus on selling mobile gear and packages through Carphone Warehouse-branded areas inside the 305 remaining Currys PCWorld stores.

In a statement, Dixons Carphone says that it expects around 1,800 people to take new jobs with the company. It expects to make 2,900 people redundant as a consequence of the closures, around 60 percent of those affected. The hope is, with the closures and associated cost-savings, the company can stop losing money on its mobile retail business, which is expected to make a £90 million ($109 million) loss this year.

The company says that a variety of factors have hurt its business, including the fact that people are "replacing their handsets less often" and often "buying them separately." That reduces the need for a dedicated phone retail outlet on every street corner, especially when carriers have their own stores too. As part of the restructuring, the Dixons Carphone has asked to be released from its sales target-led deals.

Mass-closure of all of CPW's outlets represents the end for a company that once thrived as a major independent phone retailer. In 2014, CPW was a behemoth, with 2,000 stores and stakes in mobile operators, shortly before it merged with the equally big Dixons. The intervening years have seen a lot of retail activity move online, especially in the phone space where it's very easy to negotiate a contract.

Electronics retail giant Dixons has similarly felt the pinch, and while it had 950 outlets in 2014, that figure has fallen to 305. After the merger, noises began emerging that not all was well, and that trends were hurting the combined business' bottom line.

In 2017, CPW issued guidance saying profits would drop, citing a lack of "innovation" in the phone business (and the ever-higher price of flagship handsets, which acted as a deterrent for casual upgraders). A year after that, and the combined company was the victim of a cyber attack that compromised as many as 10 million personal accounts.

It does appear, however, that the days of being able to casually browse handsets at your local phone shop is now a thing of the past. In its place is online sales and contract negotiation, and if you're not happy, you can always trek out to your regional Currys PCWorld Carphone Warehouse.