3/30/2010 9:52:00 AM
Shebang to run 10 Orange retail franchise stores
Shebang has clinched a deal with Orange to run around 10 Orange retail franchise stores, in a move marking the start of a fundamental shift in the operator’s retail estate strategy, announced last year.
The operator’s plans are aimed at increasing its retail footprint through a number of franchise partnerships.
Stores in the deal include a number of Shebang’s Go Mobile outlets as well as existing Orange stores. The Shebang deal is the first of a number of franchise partnerships planned by Orange.
As the rollout proceeds, more Orange stores will be transferred to the franchise programme.
The strategy was introduced last year by former head of Orange retail Sian Doyle.
The operator is now planning to roll out 20 Orange retail franchise stores after a successful trial in Bridlington, Yorkshire – run by Go Mobile.
Between 10 and 12 stores will go to Shebang, with rival franchise operators pitching for the rest.
One industry source told Mobile: ‘Orange and Shebang are finalising details and the franchises are expected to be rolled out quickly once the contract is completed this month. Many of the stores have already been identified.’
Another source said: ‘The first few will be converted from Shebang’s Go Mobile stores to Orange retail stores, and some existing Orange stores will be rolled into the franchise.’
Rivals have questioned Orange’s decision to forge a deal with Shebang.
Shebang boss Iain Humphrey put Shebang’s retail subsidiary, Go Mobile, into administration in February, after closing 30 failing Go Mobile shops and putting the remaining 43 stores under the Shebang brand.
One retailer said: ‘I find it hard to believe Orange would go ahead with this after what happened to Go Mobile. It makes sense to farm out underperforming shops as retail is currently really tough, but I question their choice of partner.’
An Orange spokesman said the operator plans to open ‘a handful’ of similar franchise stores in the next three months. He added: ‘We’re looking to recruit additional partners to discuss potential sites.’