Monday, February 29, 2016

A Quick Take: Sprint's Retail Expansion w/Euro Company - Dixons Carphone

Sprint announced a joint venture with UK company Dixons Carphone Connected World Services (CWS) division to expand its retail footprint up to 500 stores.  



This follows the initial foray announced July 2015 where 20 test stores were to be opened. 
Particularly notable in the distribution of 'skin in the game" was the following:

Sprint stores will operate similarly to the third-party retailers who operate Sprint-branded wireless stores across the U.S. Sprint will own and staff the stores while CWS will manage them. CWS will also apply its expertise and best practices across all of Sprint’s sales channels.

Fast forward almost eight months and ostensibly the partnership was successful enough that warranted further stores - up to 500 nationally. However, no time table to meet the number was communicated. 

Quick Take:

Pros

  • This is about increasing the gross additions to offset subscriber defections that happen to all carriers. The more gross adds to offset defections yields a better churn metric. Simplistically , this will help the net addition and corporate turnaround story that Softbank and Sprint has been promising. 
  • Sprint further expands on its retail footprint following a deal with General Wireless in which Sprint was the lead brand and operating 1,435 to 1,700 stores. As Sprint of the RadioShack announcement in Feb 2015, the company had about 1,100 company owned retail stores. At the high range, Sprint will have about 3.300 stores. 
  • Sprint limits its risk and the cost of expansion as it is spread to Dixons which supposedly may have a hand it implementation on top of whatever monetary agreement there may be.
  • Presumably, this may help prepaid distribution since each retail store can also push prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile (if they ever delineate each's niche and value).
  • Not that we're tracking Dixons from the US, it gives that company another U.S. foothold after a joint venture with Best Buy for Best Buy Mobile and Geeksquad.  As in this iteration, the partner operates the stores and provides the personnel.
Cons
  • For such a decent and impactful announcement, there was no mirror release on Dixons Carphone Media Centre/News Release site.  Doesn't the US expansion of a line of business warrant notice, particularly to he UK financial and mainstream press?

  • There is the 'out' language in the press release of 'up to 500' stores - no promises. There could be less, not realizing the full purported distribution impact. 
  • Sprint cost cutting may not be over. Any insider knows (regardless of carrier) that cost cutting/containment is constant. If things get bad, the 500 expansion number could be a pipe dream. A indicator could be the RadioShack partnership store traffic and sales metrics. 
  • T-Mobile has more Un-carrier announcements planned for '16. At this point, Sprint is competing with T-Mobile for the attacking large Verizon postpaid base.  A strong T-Mobile offering could impinge on Sprint's recovery momentum (albeit very small for now).
  • Honestly, this is an upside story. The heavy lifting of what to sell and get customers into the store has partially been answered with the successor of the long running 'Cut Your Bill in Half' promotion. 

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