Independent mobile retailer Fonehouse has been given the green light by Apple to sell the iPhone from next week.
However, Fonehouse franchise partners will only qualify to sell the handset if their stores have been upgraded under the retailer’s store modernisation programme, which was launched last year and featured in the Mary Portas: Secret Shopper TV show on Channel Four.
Under the terms of the deal agreed with Apple, Fonehouse will offer iPhone contracts through T-Mobile and Three. Fonehouse staff will undertake a training programme before launch and stores will be fitted with special iPhone display units and promotional signage.
Speaking to Mobile, Fonehouse MD Clive Bayley said: ‘We are really pleased. It’s really good to have [the iPhone] on board. We have just signed the deal and we will be selling iPhones in our new fit stores by the end of next week… All of our staff in the relevant stores have undergone training and all of the Fonehouse stores selling iPhones will be individually approved by Apple.’
Bayley added that he hoped the deal with Apple would encourage other Fonehouse partners to sign up to retailer’s modernisation programme. He said: ‘The modernisation is going really well with 26 out of 50 stores modernised so far but we think having the iPhone will encourage more partners to make the change.’
The 26 partners who have modernised their stores have paid around £25,000 to take part in the programme. Under the scheme Fonehouse stores have been refurbished with light oak wooden benches, live interactive handset displays, large LED screens displaying promotions and central bays with 20-inch touch-screen TVs providing information on products in store. Sales processes have also been changed from an over-the-counter (OTC) service style to a more informal approach.
Analysts said this latest deal by Apple is part of its strategy to increase volume share and market penetration by expanding iPhone sales into secondary markets. Fonehouse stores tend to be located in the suburbs of London, smaller cities and large towns, as well as in major shopping centres such as Bluewater in Kent.
Apple’s latest move follows a recent deal with Three to sell the iPhone 4S on contract in over 55 Apple Premium Reseller stores, which are run by franchise partners and focus on the company’s computer products. The deal saw the iPhone 4S made available on contract.
Editor: Carol Millett