Barking and Dagenham’s Phones 4U stores reopen as Vodafone

The new Vodafone store in Dagenham's Heathway shopping centre.

The new Vodafone store in Dagenham's Heathway shopping centre. - Credit: Archant

Former Phones 4U stores in Barking and Dagenham have reopened as Vodafone shops, following the collapse of the high street chain last month.

The Vicarage Field outlet, Barking, reopened to the public on Friday, while Dagenham’s Heathway shop began its new era on October 9 – 24 days after the retailers slipped into administration.

The move saves a number of jobs in the borough, with employees mixed between ex-Phones 4U staff members and those who have previously worked for the network.

Store manager Lee Arnold, 39, believes the re-openings are good news for the borough.

“It’s the only phone shop in the area so it’s important to maintain a high street presence for customers,” he said.

“It’s been a bit of a slow start with people only just starting to find us, but hopefully things will start picking up.”

The new stores form part of Vodafone’s £100 million nationwide expansion, putting the network giants back in the heart of the high street.

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Vodafone has taken on 850 former Phones 4U employees with plans to create 1,400 retail jobs across the UK this year, with the borough’s stores making up two of the 140 acquired by the phone network last month.

The shops opened with a range of services from expert advice on transferring contacts and photos with Vodafone Red Box, in addition to click-and-collect – using the store as the place to pick up online purchases.

The new openings make up part of Vodafone’s plans to invest £1bln in 2014 as part of its commitment to provide indoor and outdoor coverage to 98 per cent of the UK population.

The closure of Phones 4U stores across the country had been blamed on rival network provider EE’s decision not to renew its contract with the group, following a similar move by Vodafone earlier this year.

However both companies have helped mop up the mess, with EE taking over 58 stores last month, saving 359 jobs.

Speaking last month, a spokesperson for Vodafone’s head office said: “Vodafone UK was approached by the Phones4U administrator and decided to make an offer to buy 140 of its stores, as a way to accelerate our retail expansion programme and save hundreds of jobs.”

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