John Lewis set to lock horns with Carphone Warehouse

In a bid to cash in on a large customer base left behind by the once-successful Phones 4U, John Lewis is keen to enter the mobile phone business through a partnership with Vodafone.

Akin to Phones 4U, John Lewis will sell phones and accessories through dedicated stores across the country, thus posing a direct challenge to Carphone Warehouse who survived the physical store crash last year.

The first two dedicated stores will come up in Oxford Street in London and in Cheadle Manchester. As part of its initial offering, John Lewis will provide two-year guarantees on all phones along with free insurance. The firm will also offer only two tariff plans for each mobile phone to ease confusion among customers. In addition, customers will also be able to choose from a range of Vodafone tariff plans.

Once the stores start doing good business, John Lewis will open several more stores across the country. Jonathan Marsh, Buying Director at John Lewis, said, ‘We’ve got a very strong technology business, and being able to offer customers mobile phones is important. We know from our website traffic and searches that customers are actively looking for mobiles from us, but it’s important we go into this market in a John Lewis way.’

The two tariff plans to be offered by John Lewis will be one with a lower data and the other with a higher data package, with both packages featuring unlimited texts and minutes.

With 800 outlets across the country and post a £3.8bn merger with Dixons last year, Carphone Warehouse is the leading high street retailer of mobile phones in the UK, and which John Lewis will hope to tackle in the coming days.

Carphone Warehouse have also launched a new network named iD this year, believing that most customers are dissatisfied with available mobile phone contracts and iD can address issues like inflexible roaming plans for frequent travellers, non-availability of short term plans and lack of standardised billing based on best prices in the market.

Given that Carphone Warehouse have resorted to huge investments to keep themselves afloat in the mobile phone retail business, the stakes could be much higher for John Lewis who will also have to beat off network operators who are offering more and more attractive pricing packs for mobile phones with 4G networks.  

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