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Mobile phone giant Three plans to sell home gadgets in all its shops

Mobile phone giant Three planning major revamp of its 313 UK stores to sell internet-connected gadgets and broadband packages to home workers










Mobile phone giant Three is planning a major revamp of its 313 UK stores to sell internet-connected gadgets and broadband packages to home workers.

Chief executive Robert Finnegan said the eyes of consumers ‘had been opened’ to new devices such as film projectors while they were stuck at home during lockdown. He plans to start transforming all of his stores next year after a successful trial in Ireland to sell more than just mobile deals for the first time.

The shops will be more akin to a small Currys than a phone store, though Finnegan said he wasn’t going after the retailer’s market.

Change of direction: Robert Finnegan plans to start transforming all of his Three stores next year after a successful trial in Ireland (pictured)

He said the revamped shops would help Three market broadband packages to people who had moved to more rural areas since the pandemic and wanted a better internet connection for home working.

As part of his land grab on mobile and broadband customers, Finnegan said Three could consider a multi-billion pound acquisition of a rival telecoms provider.

The mobile network has already begun a permanent £27 million refit of its Irish shops, which are stocked with devices such as £400 Anker outdoor film projectors and Steepletone speaker tables, which have seen a 50 per cent jump in sales.

Finnegan said: ‘People have realised technology improves their lives significantly at home since they’ve been spending more time there. It’s connecting people to their home with security devices, or to hobbies, with high-end cameras, projectors and outdoor speakers.

‘We wanted to showcase the whole range of products so that we can help deliver our vision of a better connected life for our customers.’

Three hopes to lure home workers with its 5G internet packages and win customers from fibre-cable based rivals such as BT and Virgin Media. Finnegan said: ‘5G can bring you speeds as good as, or better than, fibre at more cost effective rates. It is something that will help if people move out to rural areas, because it will take Openreach or whoever longer to get to building in those rural areas.’

Land grab: The shops will be more akin to a small Currys than a phone store

Land grab: The shops will be more akin to a small Currys than a phone store

Finnegan called the UK telecoms market ‘dysfunctional’ as it features four big networks – BT-EE, Vodafone, O2-Virgin and Three. He said the best coverage and speed was in cities such as Oslo and Seoul where just three players compete.

Three was blocked in its £10 billion merger attempt with O2 in 2016. Asked if Three could now attempt a takeover of embattled BT or Vodafone, Finnegan said: ‘If an opportunity comes along we’re looking at every opportunity.’

He described Three’s Hong Kong parent, CK Hutchison, valued at £19 billion, as ‘cash rich’ and ‘in a very strong financial position’.

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