A1 Comms' retail arm A1 Retail has bought its largest franchise partner 2M Business Services which operates 40 of A1 Comms' Go Mobile stores.
The move sees the franchise retailer take direct management of nearly half of its retail estate, raising questions about its future strategy as a franchise operator.
The purchase follows rapid expansion of 2M Business Services which has seen it increase its retail footprint from 26 to 40 stores since September 2012.
As part of the acquisition, 2M founder and MD Gareth Murray will join A1 Retail in the new role of retail director. All 2M Business Services staff will be transferred to A1 Retail.
2M Business Services employees were informed of the purchase earlier this week. In an email to staff Gareth Murray said: ‘As of 1 April 2014 2M Business Services Limited will cease to be your employer.’
Murray assured employees that their jobs were safe, saying: ‘I can confirm that your role will remain unchanged, and your main terms and conditions of employment, including your holiday allowance, pay and benefits will all transfer across seamlessly to A1 Retail.’
He added: ‘Please be assured that A1 Retail has informed me that it does not intend at this stage to make any significant changes to your main terms and conditions of employment.’
Murray concluded by saying: ‘I am delighted that we will be continuing to work together during this new and exciting phase of the business.’
2M’s franchise stores are spread across England, from the south west to the north of the country, and are estimated to have around 120 employees.
In a statement A1 Comms confirmed the acquisition. The company said: ‘A1 Retail Ltd has acquired the business of 2M Ltd, its largest retail franchise with 40 stores. This is part of A1’s strategy to grow and develop its retail business.
‘2M has grown from 26 to 40 stores over the last 18 months and over 50% of its contract business is now 4G. This is in line with the strategy and direction of the wider A1 group. The acquisition will cement A1 Retail as the third largest independent mobile retailer in the UK.’
The company confirmed that Murray will take on the new role of retail director. It added: ‘A1 will now invest further in its retail proposition which will also benefit its current and future franchisees. It currently operates the largest mobile franchise estate in the UK and also has the widest range of network and handset propositions available to any mobile franchisee. It will also continue to invest and grow this key channel.’