Phones 4u staff have raised concerns about the long-term future of BlackBerry handsets in its stores, with some claiming it has been ‘months’ since they were last stocked.
Scott Hooton, chief commercial officer at Phones 4u, told Mobile that the relationship with the manufacturer remains ‘strong’ but his comments contrast with a poll of the retailer’s branches, many of which are key performing stores.
Members of staff at a number of Phones 4u stores admitted they have had no BlackBerry stock for several weeks, despite the recent launch of the BlackBerry Z30. One employee said: ‘We’ve had no BlackBerrys in stock at all recently. We practically discontinued selling them months ago. There isn’t a Phones 4u in the county, let alone the town, that sells them.’
Another member of staff working in a different store said: ‘We’ve not had any BlackBerry stock for quite some time. Even basic stock like pay as you go has zero availability. We have none on display at the moment. I’m not sure if we’re still dealing with them, but it’s just down to our buyers.’ A third added: ‘I can’t remember the last time we had any stock to be honest. The Z10 was a waste of time and never sold.’
A member of the retailer’s online sales team said the Curve 9320 was the only model in stock via its website at time of writing, although the Z10 and Q10 would be available to order on 19 November. He added ‘fingers crossed, some handsets might make it to store, but because of limited availability it’s likely they will only be available online or over the phone’.
When asked by Mobile if Phones 4u had stopped buying new BlackBerry stock for its retail stores, Scott Hooton said in a statement: ‘Phones 4u aims to deliver first-rate customer experiences; and we believe choice is an essential part of any retail experience. Our relationship with BlackBerry remains strong. While stock availability may fluctuate, we can confirm that we continue to purchase stock from BlackBerry and its products continue to be part of the extensive range of handsets we offer in-store and online.’
When asked if it has reduced the amount of stock sent to Phones 4u retail stores, a BlackBerry spokesman said: ‘We have a strong partnership with Phones 4u and we continue to work closely with this key retail partner to meet its customers’ ongoing demand for our products.’
BlackBerry’s problems have been well documented over the past year. It posted a quarterly loss of almost $1 billion in September, with $934 million written off because of unsold Z10 smartphones.
By contrast, Phones 4u’s high street rival Carphone Warehouse is stocking BlackBerry’s flagship Z30 handset in its retail stores. It exclusively sold the device when it was first released at its Selfridges concession.
Author: Matthew Campelli