Carphone Warehouse Will Decide Soon on Further ‘Big Box’ Stores

Carphone Warehouse Group Plc (CPW), Europe’s largest mobile-phone retailer, plans to decide by the end of the third quarter on the size of any further “Big Box” stores in the U.K.

The London-based company’s venture with Best Buy Co. to sell electronic goods has opened 10 of the 30,000 square-foot (2,787 square-meter) stores, with another due in the next two to three months.

“We know what the customers like and don’t like,” Chief Executive Officer Roger Taylor said in an interview. “What we have now got to work out is how do we ultimately drive this business forward for customers and shareholders?”

Last year, Carphone Warehouse formed Best Buy Europe, a venture with Best Buy that includes all the U.K. company’s European shops and Best Buy’s U.S. mobile phone business. Carphone Warehouse also owns 47.5 percent of mobile-phone company Virgin Mobile France and has demerged its TalkTalk fixed-line and broadband business.

Same-store sales in Europe will grow as much as 2 percent this fiscal year, depending on how the prepay market responds to withdrawal of subsidies on handsets, Taylor said.

Connections at Best Buy Mobile in the U.S. are forecast to increase 20 percent as the business seeks to double its market share to 10 percent in the next few years, Carphone Warehouse said in a statement.

Cost Control

“Last year was a very good year for us,” Taylor said. “This year doesn’t feel like a year to go ballistic, it is about keeping costs under control. Most parts of our business are doing well.”

Earnings before tax and interest for the year ended March 31 rose 67 percent to 63.3 million pounds ($104 million) from 38 million pounds a year earlier, as the company’s share of profit from Best Buy more than doubled. Net income fell to 67.8 million pounds, or 14.4 pence a share, from 218.8 million pounds, or 47.8 pence, a year earlier, as a one-time post-demerger dividend wasn’t repeated.

The shares rose 2.6 percent, or 10.25 pence, to 408.75 pence at 10:37 a.m. in London trading, the highest since May 5.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at pwoodifield@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.net.

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