EE moved swiftly to dampen reports that it is to pull out of its relationship with Carphone Warehouse this morning but did not go so far as to deny the possibility.
Reports that EE is to pull out of Carphone Warehouse, following the operator’s wide ranging review of its indirect relationships, emerged this weekend, raising questions about how that could impact on the mobile retailer’s plans to merge with Dixons Retail.
The reports come as EE prepares to announce the results of its review of its indirect relationships, which was revealed by Mobile earlier this year.
An EE spokesman told Mobile: ‘We have a long standing and important relationship with Carphone Warehouse.’
He added: ‘We haven’t made a decision yet. We are reviewing our relationships with our retailers and our decision will be announced in due course. We are in mid negotiations.
‘As we have already said, we are looking for fewer, deeper, longer term relationships and we are reviewing our options and we will be announcing our decision when we are ready. The review also includes Phones 4u and our smaller consumer channel partners.’
Mobile understands that as part of the review EE was seeking closer ties with Carphone Warehouse, before news of the planned merger. Sources say the merger has scuppered that plan and left EE considering a more direct route to its customers – a strategy it is already implementing with its ongoing expansion of its store portfolio and a move into franchised stores.
A withdrawal of EE from Carphone Warehouse could hit its plans to merge with Dixons, with the prospect already impacting on Carphone Warehouse and Dixon’s shares.
Carphone Warehouse said its proposed merger would open up further opportunities to network operators.
A Carphone Warehouse spokeswoman said: ‘We work closely with all the major operators on long-term contracts, which align our interests and provide them with valuable incremental business. The proposed merger with Dixons provides the opportunity for significant new value creation and we are in conversations with all the major operators about how we can mutually make the most of this opportunity.’