US mobile operator Sprint has announced a joint venture with UK tech retailer Dixons Carphone to open and operate up to 500 new Sprint-branded stores across the U.S.
The two companies dipped their toe in the water last summer with a pilot in trial markets, which apparently ticked the right commercial and customer feedback boxes. Dixons Carphone is the product of a merger between UK consumer electronics and retail chains. It resells contracts from UK operators but doesn’t currently run any of their retail operations. Sprint lacks the resources to take AT&T and Verizon head on, so must look for pragmatic ways to compete.
“Sprint is committed to providing the best possible experience for our customers and that begins at the retail store level,” said Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO. “Dixons Carphone is truly a global leader in the wireless retail industry. We have seen incredible results from our pilot program, and I’m confident that expanding our partnership will accelerate Sprint’s distribution expansion and ongoing retail transformation.”
“Sprint is making tremendous strides in transforming their business, and we are excited to play an even greater role in enhancing their retail experience,” said Andrew Harrison, Dixons Carphone Deputy Group Chief Exec. “The joint venture represents an important next step in Dixons’ expansion into the U.S. market, and I’m confident that together we will deliver a best-in-class retail experience for Sprint customers.”
This seems to be an increasingly familiar story of two companies using a joint venture to expand in ways they lack the resources to do independently. There’s nothing wrong with a marriage of convenience if both parties benefit and 500 stores seems an ambitious initial target, so time will tell if this is a good move. It also sets an interesting precedent of operator brands effectively outsourcing their retail to specialists.