Electronics retail giant Dixons Retail is testing contract sales from dedicated mobile zones at three of its Currys/PC World mega stores as it accelerates its push into the mobile market.
The contract deals, which are with Vodafone and EE, are being sold across a range of smartphones in branches at Derby, Preston and Banbury. Mobile understands mobile phone retailer Fonehouse is supplying the airtime deals, setting the tariffs and providing the training for Dixons Retail staff.
Sources said the trial is making good progress and is expected to be extended to a number of other stores in early 2014. One said: ‘It started slowly but has really picked up in recent weeks. Dixons wants to see how successful they can be selling airtime with handsets. They want to know if that will work for them. They recognise that mobile is important to their converged strategy.’
Another said: ‘Dixons has been incredibly successful selling data products and it wants to know if it can replicate that in the mobile arena.’
None of the three stores has a Phones 4u concession. However, the move raises questions around the future of Dixons Retail’s partnership with the high street retailer, which currently operates Phones 4u branded concessions in over 160 Dixons, Currys and PC World stores.
Dixons is already trialling a Phones 4u concession with reduced Phones 4u signage at its new Currys/PC World megastore in Solihull, with a view to creating a more integrated look to its stores.
It is also carrying out a major mobile strategy review, led by connectivity chief Rupert Nicols, a former Carphone Warehouse commercial director.
Retail analysts said the mobile market is increasingly important to Dixons. Matthew Rubin, retail analyst at Verdict Retail, said: ‘Dixons has already become a major player in the tablet market, with its staff knowledgeable in regards to the technical specifications, making mobile phones a small leap.’
Phones 4u insisted its partnership with Dixons is strong, adding it is ‘continually evolving the nature of our presence in Dixons stores to enhance the partnership,’ which includes ‘exploring new store-in-store concepts’.
Author: Carol Millett