Phones4U has entered administration, putting nearly 6,000 jobs at risk across its 720 UK stores - and any customers who have ordered a new phone could well be left empty-handed.
The retailer has taken its website offline, and although staff are expected to arrive at work as normal, many stores have not opened today. As for customers who have recently purchased (or pre-ordered, in the case of the iPhone 6) handsets, these orders will not be delivered.
Orders which have not yet been dispatched will be cancelled and full refunds will be made, the retailer has confirmed.
Phones4U said in a statement on its website: “Dear customers. Following the unexpected decision of EE and Vodafone to withdraw supply from Phones4U , we regret that we are offline. Please accept our apologies and we will update you as soon as possible.”
Employees will “continue to be paid until further notice,” the company said.
In a further statement the retailer said: "The company is in a health state and both EE and Vodafone had, until very recently, consistently indicated that they saw Phones4U as a long-term strategic partner."
The shock news, which comes after O2 and Three both ended their Phone4U contracts earlier this year, quickly turned to a bitter disagreement between Phones4U and Vodafone. The retailer said Vodafone’s behaviour “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."
Meanwhile, Vodafone told Cnet that it “strongly rejects any suggestion that we behaved inappropriately at any stage during our negotiations with Phones4U," adding that it was the retailer’s inability to provide a “commercially viable” agreement which forced it to not renew its contract.
Rumours are starting to circulate suggesting BT could be interested in purchasing some of Phones4U's more successful stores.