EE considering withdrawing from retailers to focus on direct sales

EE is allegedly considering the withdrawal of its business from major device retailers Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4u. The UK's biggest 4G network - along with its 3G brands T-Mobile UK and Orange UK - is responsible for over a third of UK users. Although it has not confirmed this latest report, it has acknowledged that it is conducting a strategic review of its distribution partnerships. 

This turn of events may be related to comments made by Gervais Pellissier - an executive at French telecoms giant Orange, which co-owns the EE joint venture in the UK with Germany's Deutsche Telekom - who suggested that the network must "get rid" of third-party partnerships and focus on direct sales for future success. 

A spokesperson for EE told The Telegraph:

While we do not comment specifically on ongoing negotiations, we can confirm that we're formally reviewing our distribution strategy, primarily in the consumer space, with a view to fewer, deeper partnerships based on value and shared ambitions.

Any withdrawal of EE's business could cause headaches for retailers that rely on a wide range of networks for consumers to compare. Carphone Warehouse, for example, currently offers six network brands, which would be halved to three if EE and its associate T-Mobile and Orange brands disappear.

If EE's rumoured plans to focus exclusively on direct sales materialise, the further development of its own store network will be vital. The company is planning to increase the number of its retail stores from 520 to 570 in the coming months, although this total is still far below that of Carphone Warehouse alone, which operates 780 stores nationwide. 

The final decision is expected to be revealed within weeks. However nothing is confirmed at this stage, so we'll be sure to keep you posted on the latest updates.

Source: The Telegraph via Digital Spy | Image via EE

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If they do that they are screwed. I like to talk to someone when i buy a phone, and to walk out with the phone as well. Nothing worse than waiting for a phone to arrive. The courier hours are from like 8am to 5:30pm. So you are stuck at home and cannot even go for sh*t! You know as soon as your sit down there will be knock at the door!

Edited by TrekRich, Jun 8 2014, 9:18pm :

Withdraw from other retailers, not from the high street.
They're already planning to increase the amount of stores they have

well they could close all their stores anyways. buying can be done online and help is not provided in the store since they advice you to call 150. and well.. there they are pretty useless.

I think they should concentrate on being competitive. First there was the farce that was increasing contracts mid-term which destroyed their reputation and lost them vast swathes of customers. They then followed this up with a massively overpriced 4G launch which was widely unadopted and extremely limited.

Extremely limited? They've still got 4G capability in far more places than any other operator in the UK, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

I personally think they should concentrate on making sure basic voice dialling works well. I am now on EE after upgrading from Orange and over the last year Ive noticed a huge degradation in quality and connection from my home. I cant say that 4G isn't fast, it's great but sending an SMS or making a voice call has become much harder.

"although this total is still far below that of Carphone Warehouse alone, which operates 780 stores nationwide. "

Which are mainly duplicates in cities, with at least 1 almost next door to another phone store, Vodafone, EE, etc.