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Sprint’s Joint With Dixons Is No More

Sprint and Dixons Carphone, the European mobile and CE chain, have agreed to end their 50-50 retail partnership in the U.S.

Under the two-year-old plan, the partners were to open upward of 500 jointly owned Sprint stores across the country using Dixons’ proprietary Honeybee sales platform and other retail insights.

But due to “the changing U.S. mobile market landscape and Sprint’s review of its own distribution strategy,” the transatlantic allies have mutually agreed to end their joint venture, Dixons said, and Sprint will buy out its 50 percent share of the business.

The move will give Sprint full ownership of the more than 100 carrier stores that the two companies had opened together to date. The No. 4 carrier will also extend Dixons’ Honeybee platform to all of its approximately 3,000 corporate-owned mobile stores.

Carphone Warehouse, a predecessor of Dixons Carphone, formed a similar 50-50 joint venture with Best Buy ten years ago, which helped grow that chain’s once-stagnant mobile phone business into a major cellular sales force. Best Buy, like Sprint, would eventually buy out its partner’s share of the operation.

For Sprint, the Dixons divorce represents the second major retail pact that is has dissolved in recent weeks, after pulling the plug on a showroom leasing deal with RadioShack. That move, attributed to poor mobile sales at the 1,435 jointly operated RadioShack stores, precipitated the chain’s second bankruptcy in as many years.

Sprint has since acquired about 365 RadioShack locations for conversion to carrier showrooms, and is also opening temporary pop-up stores in Florida.

“We are rapidly expanding our retail footprint to serve the high demand for the Sprint value proposition,” said Kevin Crull, the carrier’s omnichannel sales president. The Dixons partnership, he said, “achieved its objective of accelerating Sprint’s retail transformation. We thank the team at Dixons Carphone and look forward to leveraging their innovative platform across Sprint stores as we to continually enhance our customer experience.”

Added Dixons deputy group CEO Andrew Harrison, “We have enjoyed working with Sprint to accelerate their store-opening program over the last two years and have developed an estate and a pipeline to help support their ambitious growth plans. … It has been a privilege to work so closely with Marcelo [Sprint CEO Claure] and his excellent team as they turn around this amazing business, and we look forward to making Honeybee as successful for Sprint as it is for us.”

Although it is cutting its retail ties, Sprint is rumored to be attempting another merger try with No. 3 carrier T-Mobile.