Thousands of jobs are at risk after the owners of mobile phone retailer Phones 4U announced they would place the company into administration on Monday.
The high street chain sells mobile phone contracts on behalf of networks and earns a commission for each sign-up it completes.
However the number of operators selling through it has fallen in recent years as networks seek to move sales in-house to cut commissions and pass savings on to consumers in what is one of the world’s most competitive mobile markets.
Last week Vodafone, which accounts for around 27 per cent of Phones 4U’s contract sales, announced it would be ending its contract with the retailer.
That left the chain with just EE’s three brands – EE, Orange and T-Mobile – and unable to offer customers a wide enough choice of tariffs to remain attractive.
The firm had expressed hope it could sign up smaller virtual networks but a decision by EE not to renew its contract when it expires next September means the firm will now be wound up.
Chief Executive David Kassler said: “Today is a very sad day for our customers and our staff. If the mobile network operators decline to supply us, we do not have a business. A good company making profits of over £100 million, employing thousands of decent people has been forced into administration.
“The great service we have provided should have guaranteed a strong future, but unfortunately our network partners have decided otherwise. The ultimate result will be less competition, less choice and higher prices for mobile customers in UK.”
There has been speculation that BT could be interested in buying Phones 4U retail sites to support the launch of its new mobile network.