The purchase of Phones 4u last week by equity investor BC Partners is a good move for the company, according to Phones 4u CEO Tim Whiting.
Speaking to Mobile, he said: ‘Providence Equity Partners has been an excellent shareholder for the company. They have been with us for five years and the business has performed very well under their ownership. We had a strong 2010 and have started well this year.
‘The purchase by BC Partners is a very good thing for us. I am a strong believer that businesses work in cycles, so having new shareholders gives us an opportunity to reinvigorate the business. BC Partners saw opportunities in Phones 4u as our business is on a growth trajectory, we are looking to exploit the rise in demand for smartphones, and they appreciate our strong position in the youth market.’
Whiting said that there would be no changes in the management structure. ‘BC Partners very much bought the business on the basis that the existing management team will stay in place. We have probably got the most stable management team in entire industry.’
He added that BC Partners has not bought the business to make cuts, but rather is looking to build on the company’s current strategy: ‘We will continue to invest in all areas our business. We are investing in our financial services, the online business and we will be opening more stores. There will be both more standalone Phones 4u stores and more store-in-stores across Dixons and PC World,’ said Whiting.
As far as the retail estate is concerned Whiting said that last year the main focus was on completing the major refurbishment of the Phones 4u stores, but the company also opened 57 store-in-stores in Currys and PC World.
‘We will roll out significantly more of them this year, plus more of our own stores,’ said Whiting. ‘The core estate in a good state, so this year we will focus more on driving market share in areas where we are less well represented geographically.'
He reiterated that the 16-24 demographic is still Phones 4u’s core focus, but added: ‘We do sell to a lot of people outside that demographic. The demographic in Dixons is very different, for example and you get a slightly older one than that in PC World, so the demographic is expanding.’