Vodafone launched its fightback today in response to claims by Phones 4u that the operator had played a key role in forcing it into administration with 'behaviour (that) appears to have been designed to inflict the maximum damage to their partner of 15 years, giving Phones 4u no time to develop commercial alternatives.'
In the strongly worded statement Vodafone insisted it had given Phones 4u ‘repeated opportunities’ to negotiate new terms but was told by Phones 4u’s management team they were hamstrung by debt repayment obligations. It also accused Phones 4u's management of failing to find 'viable' alternative partners, ahead of Vodafone pulling out.
The operator said: ‘We are saddened to read that Phones4U have gone into administration and the impact that will have on their employees. However, we strongly reject any suggestion that we behaved inappropriately at any stage during our negotiations with Phones4U. The outcome was the result of a transparent negotiation over many months.
‘Phones4U was offered repeated opportunities to propose competitive distribution terms to enable us to conclude a new agreement, but was unable to do so on terms which were commercially viable for Vodafone in the current UK market conditions.
‘We were told by the Phones4U management team that they had little commercial flexibility due to their debt repayment obligations, but that they had a number of alternative strategies in place if we couldn’t reach an agreement with them.
'So when we terminated our contract earlier this month, we made it clear that we would honour our existing contract, which runs until February 2015, to give them sufficient time to finalise one of those alternative strategies. It is now clear based on the events that have transpired that there were no viable alternative plans in place.’