back to article Dixons to shutter 92 UK Carphone Warehouse shops after profit warning

Dixons Carphone is to close 92 of its 650 stores following a profit warning this morning which sent shares tumbling 20 per cent. The firm expects pre-tax profits to be £382m in its 2017/18 results out next month, but already predicts profits to fall to £300m in 2018/19. In contrast, for 2016/17 it reported profits of £501m. …

  1. Mage
    Paris Hilton

    No surprise

    Misleading prices on the wall, poor selection (anything as long as it's a rectangular slab) and expensive.

    Their big shop here is usually empty now, though Currys seems busy enough. Bad acquisition when people either upgrade on line, Tesco or the operators' shops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No surprise

      [...] poor selection (anything as long as it's a rectangular slab)

      That is what 99.9% of phones look like, so I think I'll have to let that one slide.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No surprise

        "Let that one slide", yes, usually there is only one sliding keypad phone on display.

    2. Kris Akabusi

      Re: No surprise

      I think you get to a certain age and refuse to pay over £40 for a phone, a young lad I work work with quite happily pays £50 + for a S9 where as I balk at paying that kind of sum.

      Her indoors just got a S9 for £23 and £165 upfront making it around the rrp of the phone, carphone warehouse couldn't match it and said it was a con.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No surprise

        "I think you get to a certain age and refuse to pay over £40 for a phone"

        Indeed, I have always thought £40 is about what a phone is worth. My current one cost me just that from Cash Converters 2 years ago.

    3. CheesyTheClown

      Re: No surprise

      I shopped at Dixon’s last summer while visiting Ireland. They blatantly screwed me and insisted that the advertisement sitting on the counter which triggered my impulse purchase of a LTE modem with an included data package... clearly marked as such did not come with the SIM card and I would have to buy it separate and refused to take the product back.

      The time before that, a few years earlier, the screwed me on something else, but I chalked it up to a failure on the store to train their people.

      I am allowed to spend about £500 per person while traveling and remain in my duty free limit. So, when the family and I travel, we spend about £2200 on crap we don’t need but can’t survive without and get duty refunds on the expensive stuff. We also know whatever we buy is disposable, if it breaks, we throw it away.

      It’s pretty common for us to travel to countries which have Dixon’s two or three times a year. And we spend precisely £0 there... even if they have a better price.

      There are almost no companies I wish financial ruin on. But Dixon’s is one of the few that I do.

      1. Bob Vistakin
        Thumb Up

        Re: No surprise

        Thumbs up.

        Proud to say the decades I spent avoiding them since being similarly burnt by CPW have in a small way contributed to their demise.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No surprise

        £2200 on disposable crap you expect to throw away??????????

        My mind boggles. No wonder then planet is doomed. If I spent £2200 on something I would expect it to last 10-20 years. Even a car for that money should run for 5+ years in my world.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But the answer everyone wants to know is ....

    Are they going to claim on their extended warranty ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But the answer everyone wants to know is ....

      Give the value of their extended warranty I guss you know the answer.....

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SIM only

    Part of that is the margins on the handsets. They sell for £X (unlocked) or £X+Y on a contract. Sure the cost of the phone is spread over some years, but the extra is more than a reasonable interest charge for the equivalent loan - especially when there is also an unfront handset charge if you go for a lower monthly contract.

    Add to that the fact that a decent phone will easily last five years ...

  4. Matt Ryan

    Can't say I'm surprised. Unless the new strategy is to fix the woeful customer service, the only way they are going is down.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      I thought they'd survive on the basis of 'last man standing', but it seems their customer service is so poor, that even the absence of high street competition isn't enough to save them.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To be expected

    Lately, their stores have become very uninviting and dull. Staff are not interested and expect punters to do their own research. Dummy displays are only for the big brand names (who must be paying for eye level slots/displays)

    Best deals are suppressed or not offered upfront, till a keen customers, who has time, probes further (assuming staff still interested in selling!). Online upgrades are a sham.

    Beause all these past years , they have had a good run in gouging punters for 24 months overhyped handset contracts, they now find it hard to maintain momentum. (Mind, handset Mfrs. market new handsets/shiny shiny every 9 months or so). How does one juggle this?

    A B-school undergraduate could have predicted this demise. Why does it take a CEO this long to realise the so called catchphrase of "headwinds" !

    1. ibmalone

      Re: To be expected

      To be fair to them, my last experience was okay-ish. One of the small things that swayed me was when I went in to look at the model I was after the guy in the shop was using one himself and let me have a look at his. I'd no intention of upgrading through my network (EE) this time, since while I'm generally happy with them they're poor at getting updates out, so I wanted a vanilla handset. While I'd been considering buying the handset outright (maybe JL or somewhere), CPW had a reduction (January sales) deal on their website, which worked for a network upgrade and was overall slightly cheaper (counting the increase in monthly rental and upfront payment) than the new handset. The overall result is I still have an EE contract (not paying CPW) with an unlocked base version phone.

      They fell down a bit with the instore delivery. The day it was meant to arrive I didn't get a notification, but stopped by after work to check. Initially it wasn't there, then someone went off to check and discovered indeed it had arrived. Then had to go through a whole lot of document signing that left me wondering how it would have been dealt with if I'd gone for home delivery.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To be expected

      Why does it take a CEO this long to realise the so called catchphrase of "headwinds" !

      I couldn't say, but the CEO who oversaw the demise of DCPWdogkennelCurrys UK has shared her secrets for success.

      And she's already lined up her next gig to redeploy those secrets. Unfortunately I prospectively work for that company, so she'll be shatting on me, and the customers I'm supposed to be serving.

    3. Annihilator

      Re: To be expected

      "Why does it take a CEO this long to realise the so called catchphrase of "headwinds""

      We've got some very strong headwinds... giggiddy...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another Maplins in the making.

    Whenever I visit their stores, the only "buyers" are foreigners (mostly east Europeans) or visitors. Rarely do you see locals/regulars popping in to check the latest offerings and deals and upgrades. Its easier to deal directly with operators for upgrades over the phone.

    Tells a story how outdated their business model is now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another Maplins in the making.

      The name of the business kind of hints that they haven't moved with the times. I expect a lot of kids these days look at the sign and ask "what's a carphone?". At what point does brand recognition cease to be more valuable than maintaining a modern and up-to-date image, especially when selling something as trend-driven as mobile phones?

      1. Dave559 Silver badge

        Re: Another Maplins in the making.

        They do, perhaps more sensibly, call themselves "Phone House" in every other country that they operate in outwith the British Isles:

        It certainly would make sense to bring the name more up to date in the UK and Ireland as well, although I'm not sure if that will necessarily help them very much.

        I did get my first mobile phone from CPW way back in, gulp, 1999 (and I'm sure you can probably all guess what model it was), and I've bought a couple of mobile dongles from them since, but I tend not to upgrade my phones very often, and since then, have either done so via the network provider, online, or, more recently, direct from Apple (at whose prices I certainly don't want a network-locked model).

    2. Andy Taylor

      Re: Another Maplins in the making.

      They're still called the Carphone Warehouse - dedicated car phones became obsolete in the 90s.

      1. WallMeerkat

        Re: Another Maplins in the making.

        Carphones from that brief period between it being possible to have a phone in the car, to mobile phones being popular enough for early hands free kits (usually a bolt in speaker and microphone pinned to the A pillar, ran from 12v live).

        Why did they not take the oppurtunity, when carphones were out and the PAYG boom of the 90s occured, to rebrand as CW or CPW or CWH or something?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Naming a company "carphone" when that was already becoming an anachronism?!

        @Andy Taylor; According to the Wikipedia article, Carphone Warehouse only started in 1989. By that point "true" first generation mobile phones- as opposed to old-style "0G" radio car phones- had already been on the UK market for several years and become stereotypical yuppie accessories.

        This article ("In the 1980s, the car phone was more popular than the regular mobile phone.")- and this one (of a Motorola carphone using the 1G network) seems to suggest that the concept and use of bulky carphone-format mobiles lingered into that early 1G era. (I can't comment with authority as I was just a kid back then).

        Even so, I can't imagine it *wouldn't* have been obvious by the end of the decade that the concept of a "car phone" was going to become rapidly obsolete (if it wasn't happening already). Why on earth someone would choose to name their newly-started business after them beats me.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Naming a company "carphone" when that was already becoming an anachronism?!

          In France, they were called The Phone House (not La Maison Téléphonique). Why not use that name here?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Naming a company "carphone" when that was already becoming an anachronism?!

            @katrinab; Probably because the "Carphone Warehouse" name is already well-known in the UK (and well enough established that no-one thinks about it enough to notice how anachronistic it is).

            Also, "The Phone House" is as bland as heck...

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Another Maplins in the making.

      Whenever I visit their stores, the only "buyers" are foreigners (mostly east Europeans) or visitors. Rarely do you see locals/regulars popping in to check the latest offerings and deals and upgrades

      That's pretty much a given since you pretty much only need to visit a CPW when you buy your first phone or just before your contract comes up for renewal (if you're still not buying SIM-free).

  7. AndyMulhearn

    Sometimes way too many stores

    As well as the general competence, or lack of it, in the staff employed, there's the number of stores they have in some places. Not just those within a couple of miles so different catchment areas but in some cases, as in Bristol, there are two within 100 yards. Running one new and shiny store close to one small and poky store seems to be counter productive.

    Ordinarily I'd suggest closing the small one but they both seem to have so few customers on a regular basis that keeping the smaller one open makes more sense - at least it will appear that they're still doing some form of business...

    1. StripeyMiata

      Re: Sometimes way too many stores

      There are three in Belfast City Centre, all within 5 minutes walk from each other.

      1. WallMeerkat

        Re: Sometimes way too many stores

        Forestside and the Abbeycentre both have one in the centre then another in the Currys PC World in the surrounding retail park.

  8. BigAndos

    Last time I went in I just needed a PAYG sim as I had a gap in service for a few days. They wouldn't sell me one without fairly aggressive questioning on why I needed it (obviously desperate to find an angle to upsell me). I found it a bit rude and frustrating, almost walked out but there was nowhere else handy. They have a lot of shops in prime town centre locations I don't understand why they don't try and diversify them a bit. Now Maplins is gone surely they could add a few selected profitable electronics lines too? That and replace the aggressive and patronising sales droids.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm rather surprised they haven't pounced on home automation as the next opportunity to offer barely-functional stuff they don't know anything about at a premium.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    notably National Living Wage

    Not buying that one.

    7.50 to 7.83 per hour.

    Employees 43,000 (2017)

    Clearly not all on NLW but lets take an estimate of 30,000

    30k * .33 * 40 = £396,000 / £300,000,000 = 0.13% of profits.

    Not exactly notable is it. This is one of the things wrong with the world. Just pay people a basic wage they can live off and stop this it's going to cost us too much rubbish.

    You can also bet the Dixons board are also currently siphoning shareholder bonus's and any pension funds ready for the inevitable collapse.

    1. Geoff Campbell

      Re: notably National Living Wage


      Here's a radical idea for Carphone Warehouse - pay your staff 20% more that the industry average, with generous bonuses. Make them happy to work for you, and happy to be at work.

      This will result in increased sales, at increased profit margins.


      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: notably National Living Wage

        If you pay the minimum wage you shouldn't be surprised when your staff do the minimum work.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: notably National Living Wage @AC

      I think you missed out a * 52.

      What you've done is worked out the weekly increase in the total wage bill, not the annual increase. So,

      30K (number of NLW employees) * 0.33 (hourly increase) * 40 (hours per week) * 52 (weeks per year) = 20,592,000 (yes, that's over 20 million.)

      Divide by 300,000,000 and multiply by 100 to get percentage = 6.9%

      This is still quite small, but more than the insignificant figure you quoted, and definitely more than the annual rate of inflation. A business cannot take even this loss of profit for a number of years without it having an effect (on the dividend and share price, at least).

      In practice, what is happening is that people above NLW are not getting any increase until the rising NLW reaches their wage, at which point they will be swept up, and I predict that we will see the number of jobs that are at, or close to NLW significantly go up over the next few years.

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        Re: notably National Living Wage @AC

        you beat me to it!!

        its always worth showing your workings out.

        That 6.9% is in relation to a £300m profit and doesn't take into consideration other associated costs of employment like extra pension, employer NI contributions or other earnings related benefits they may provide.

        Sounds mean when its shown as 0.13%, not so mean at 6.9+% especially when they may be making less than 5% profit on a huge turnover.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: notably National Living Wage @AC

          Thanks, I was just about to correct myself as I realised that's a week and not a year but yes it's still a paltry amount even if you did take into associated costs, looking at NI if I'm reading it right the threshold is about to go well above the NLW (£702 per week) so it's going down from 12% to nil for employers (I may be reading that wrong?).

          Still, in an ideal world you would work 40 hours and not have to struggle, take benefits or use food banks.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are Dixons...

    ...still going? Who knew?

    1. WallMeerkat

      Re: Are Dixons...

      The group itself is called Dixons, but the shops are CarPhone Warehouse in city centres and Currys PC World in the outskirts.

      Though there may still be Dixons in airports if anyone can confirm?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are Dixons...

        My first experience of Dixons was back around 1978 and concerned a TV Video game which failed under warranty. I was 11 at the time, and the game was my birthday (or maybe christmas present)

        It was such an unpleasant experience even my mum decided they were arrogant idiots, and I have avoided them ever since (except in cases of extreme desparation - I think I may have bought some VHS tapes from them around 1988 when I needed to record something)

        Anyone else got horror stories to recall?

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Are Dixons...

          I don't think I have any horror stories, but I have to admit that I did not make a habit of buying from them after my first experience.

          Their own brand products were built down to the lowest quality they could get away with. I had a Printztronic Mini Scientific calculator bought for my birthday when I was 16 as the SMP Maths syllabus allowed calculators at A-level (but not in the exam). In function, it was exactly the same (and I mean exactly) as the Sinclair Cambridge Scientific (not the RPN one) and a similar size, but believe it or not, the Sinclair was built better!

          Instead of engraved or molded (or even screen printed) legends on the buttons, the Printztronic had transparent plastic buttons, with a printed sheet underneath that you read through the button. In addition, the metal bubbles for the contacts were held on to the PCB with adhesive tape, rather than the sealed sandwich the Sinclair calculator used.

          I regularly had to dismantle the thing, clean the contacts and replace the tape after one or more of the buttons stopped working, and I ended up re-drawing the legends on the paper sheet when it wore out. I guess most people would have tossed it, but I fix things to keep them working (and still do!)

          I kept it going for a couple of years until I persuaded my parents to get me a Commodore SR4190R for University (another birthday present), a much better calculator. This was not bought from Dixons.

        2. paulf

          Re: Are Dixons...

          @AC "Anyone else got horror stories to recall?"

          My ZX Spectrum may have been bought there but I was too young to recall. My first proper experience of them was a little older when I bought a Casio music keyboard from there late 1980s. The main "Power/Mode" switch broke so it would select the mode but Off didn't turn it off. A bit of a problem on a battery powered device! It was a mechanical sliding switch so shouldn't have been too difficult to repair by changing it.

          It was sent away for repair twice I think (both times it was gone for 4-6 weeks which is an age when you're about 10) and both times it came back with the same fault. We gave up after that figuring any further returns would achieve nothing. It did teach me never to shop in Dix-CP-Cur-House ever again. I think I bought two appliances there (Curry's) about 15 years later but only because a friend let me use his staff discount. Even when I wanted a 6310i for a US holiday a 12 month contract with O2 was a cheaper way to get an unlocked phone than buying it outright in CPW.

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Are Dixons...

        Yes, the airport shops are Dixons Travel.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are Dixons...

        Airports have Dixons Travel offering all the charm of the old Dixons stores with additional hard selling and eyewatering markups.

  11. Herring`

    I like the idea of being able to go into a shop and handle a variety of phones, have a play, see which one suits me and take it away there and then. Even prepared to pay a (small) premium for that.

    Carphone Warehouse isn't that though. The only times I've been in (not for ages), the wait to talk to someone was ages and then they'd try to push some phone with a hefty contract. It's easier to ask my teenaged son what the phone specs are and order off the internets.

  12. rmason

    New CEO: 'It's all fixable'


    Bet you a pound it is not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New CEO: 'It's all fixable'

      Yeah, but no overpaid executive ever kept their job by admitting that, did they?

  13. TheCynic

    say it out loud

    Always reminds me of the old Dixons Warranty service just say it out loud


    Ah the hours of fun that gave the teenage me.

    I used to give CFW my money because they sold Sim Free handsets and it was easy to move the sim. Now loike most old tight people I buy a handset, use it until death and repeat. I was PAYG for three years but wanted a calls bundle to allow me to drop my home phone and that was even cheaper than my PAYG and VOIP service bundled together. The local combined PCWORLD/Dixons/CFW has half the handset types of the miniscule CFW across town. But since being taken over has just raised their prices to the point it's cheaper to buy from Amazon and just as quick to get delivered and has already been mentioned I'm meant to do all the reading up first. Pay your staff and be competitive and maybe I'd spend money there again, or become Maplins 2.0.

  14. juice

    Too many stores, too close together

    Up in sunny Sheffield, there's seven CW stores within a 3 mile radius; if you stretch an extra half mile or so out to the Crystal Peaks shopping mall, the total goes up to ten. And at least two of these are little tiny breeze block boxes stuck in the far corner of a retail park, where there's little or no passing footfall; at best, you'll maybe get some travelling salesman nipping in to pick up a new bluetooth headset.

    As such, I'm guessing it's the retail park outlets that are going to get the first swing of the axe - I genuinely find it hard to believe that they've ever turned a profit!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too many stores, too close together

      "Crystal Peaks" sounds more like the name of a porn star than a shopping mall.

      1. Sam Therapy

        Re: Too many stores, too close together

        It's hardly a shopping mall, either. Half a dozen run down shops, a bus station and a car park.

    2. paulf

      Re: Too many stores, too close together

      It always surprises me when companies do this as it seems to be a deliberate tactic to keep out competitors which simply cannot work. A good example is Blacks; about 10 years ago they bought up their competitors like Millets and Outdoors and, in Plymouth at least, left all three original stores open after rebranding them. That didn't stop Cotswold outdoor opening, nor Mountain Warehouse while leaving Blacks with reducing business due to the new competitors along with all the original costs the acquisitions were suppose to eliminate (i.e. closing at least one if not two of the stores).

      With all these superfluous stores Dix-CP-Cur-etc seem to be trying to do the same even though they're "last man standing" as one commentard above put it. Starbucks may be able to do this trick with a coffee bar on every corner but I'm not sure you can do the same with electronics retail.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depends on where you live.

    I've used three local branches ( within 50 miles on the south coast). They have always beaten the opposition.

    I wanted the cheapest available for myself and was pointed towards the competition = = Talkmobile which was much cheaper and matched my needs.

    Tech advice has always been good for me, they always match prices for Sim-free phones. Their staff have always struck me as keen and knowledgeable.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Depends on where you live.

      The last time I bought anything from them was when in the Galaxy Note 2 era, about 5 years ago.

      They were slightly cheaper than online prices, and buying from the shop means I don't have to wait for delivery.

  16. Wolfclaw

    So many fancy, long word and catchy power phrases for the markets from Alex Baldock, what he realy means, the profit margins are going down quicker than the Titanic, stores are losing money quicker than Gordon Brown and generally the company is in the shit. So we need to sack staff, close buildings and boost the accounts, so we look cool to the investment markets and me an dthe rest of the board can still get our big fat bonuses and give away a few pennies to shareholders, to keep them quiet and hope we don't do a Carillion !

  17. Duffaboy

    Are customers tired of changing their mobile every 12 months

    May be the penny has dropped and customers are tired of shelling out on a new mobile every 12months,

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical management speak

    Funny he hasnt mentioned "Brexit" for this drop in profits. Its the latest trendy fashionable statement.

    Or even the see-saw between Trump & Kim to blame ! People not buying because they fear a Nuclear holocaust.

    Or Jeremy Corbyn. OR the resurrection of UKIP.

  19. Timmy B

    Like PC World I only ever buy from CPW when the item is on offer and cheaper than anywhere else. But saying that our whole hose is now on Sim-free OnePlus phones and I think that this is the way we will go from now on. We stay a generation behind as it doesn't matter so much and good deals can be had - our 5Ts are almost brand new and my other half is amazed at the monthly updates considering her last Huawei had no updates in the whole time she owned it. If you can afford the up front cost then there is no reason to have a contract phone.

    Also if you're in the UK and use BT for your phone and internet then there are some good deals to be had on sims through them (I know loads of you hate BT but they are the most reliable for me and working from home I need high uptime)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...or perhaps....

    ....ordinary people are just beginning to realise that a smartphone is:

    - exactly like the electronic tag (see )...except that the user is paying for the privilege

    - an opportunity for FB to track them - even though they are not signed up ( )

    - an opportunity for apps to mine BitCoin for some bad guy somewhere ( )


    .......and that's just some of the stuff we know about!!

  21. David Roberts

    Dixons - photography

    Nobody so far has mentioned the photographic side of Dixons, which has always seemed pretty good.

    I bought my first (and only) film SLR from Dixons. Chinon own brand but took popular lenses. I eventually bought my first (and so far only) Nikon digital SLR from Dixons because they had the best price at the time.

    As far as I can tell the camera market is being impacted by mobile phones (at least all the TV adverts seem to be about the cameras) and the mobile phone market is being impacted by the lack of new major featyres. The PC and other electronics markets are being impacted by the 'good enough' performance and long life of current goods.

    So the whole marketplace seems to be contracting, with volumes down and no new super must have features to drive new purchases.

    This seems to leave the only option in the sector to accept reduced volume and revenue and consolidate to reduce fixed overheads. Not an industry to invest in and expect massive growth, I would say.

    We still shop at Currys for white goods because the prices are competitive and there are very few other places where you can walk round the display area and see/touch/feel the product. This is another area where they seem to be "last man standing" (honourable mention to Hughes). People may well remember when the high street was full of department stores and other shops selling white goods. Again a contracting market.

    A bit like IT. No longer a massive market for highly paid specialist. Much more a low pay commodity market.

  22. ForthIsNotDead

    No case/need for a bricks-and-mortar phone shop anymore.

    Just don't need it.

    If I don't have to get off my toilet to order a flat-screen telly, a laptop, or pizza, I don't see why I shouldn't do the same for a phone.

    My last phone purchase was a Motorola Moto G 5S which I bought from John Lewis for £250 contract free. It has an 8 core processor. Absolutely fucking brilliant. Delivered to my door. Popped in my SIM and turned it on.

    Prior to that, my previous phone purchase was a SECOND HAND Samsung. The wife was horrified. She's such a snob!

    Anyway, the "shops" one needs to visit these days are supermarkets (and even they deliver now) and chip and kebab shops. And even THEY deliver now.

    Might as well stay on the toilet.

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