BT, which owns UK mobile operator EE, has pulled the plug on its relationship with retailer Dixons Carphone after more than 20 years, choosing not to renew its contract.
BT's cancellation follows in the wake of O2, which cut ties with Dixons Carphone in April after failing to agree on a partnership deal.
In a statement, A BT spokesperson said: “After more than 20 years of close partnership, we have taken the hard decision to not renew our EE Mobile contract with Dixons Carphone and shift our focus and investment to growth in our own stores and online channels. This has not been an easy decision to take and follows many months of challenging discussions and negotiation. However, as our strategy moves toward convergence and our focus on customer value and retention increases, we will be resetting our distribution strategy to prioritise sales and service in our own channels.
“Dixons Carphone has been a great partner for many years, and we thank the team for all the work they have done with us helping to grow our business and wish them well as they pursue their own renewed strategy. Customers will not be affected by this change.”
Commenting on the move, Kester Mann, director of consumer and connectivity at analyst firm CCS Insight, said the announcement came as no major surprise as UK operators continue to up their focus on direct channels to cut commission to third-parties and build stronger relationships with their own customers.
“The news is yet another blow to Carphone Warehouse after O2 exited the embattled retailer earlier this year. Caught in the crossfire of dwindling sales of mobile phones and high-street apathy, Carphone Warehouse was forced to close all 531 standalone stores," he said. “With the recent loss of two of its largest customers, it’s hard to see how Carphone can turn around its mobile business in a market now far more orientated toward retention than acquisition.”
In March, Dixons Carphone said it would permanently close all of its 531 Carphone Warehouse mobile phone shops, as it moved towards selling mobile phones online and in its Currys PC World stores.