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3 gobbles over 90 shops from O2 via The Link

When the music stops, we all move round

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Since O2 bought The Link in June this year, there have been some places in the UK where an O2 shop and a branch of The Link were uncomfortably close.

But this has now been resolved with 73 The Link branches and 22 O2 stores being transferred to network operator 3 for conversion into 3 stores. The financial details of the agreement have not been revealed.

Staff at The Link branches will also make the transition to 3, while those currently with O2 will be moved to the nearby O2 store. This takes 3's retail base to over 280 shops around the country, including 133 concession stands in Superdrug and Selfridges.

Selling though your own shops is very advantageous: walking customers through how to access premium services, and showing them what their handset can do increases loyalty and (more importantly) revenue per customer. Third party retailers have little incentive to spend that time with the customer, as they don't experience the long-term gains.

Not too long ago 3 was considered a joke by most in the UK mobile industry. The vast majority of its calls were routed over someone else's network and its premise of premier goals and video calling was widely ridiculed. However, 3 has gone a long way to build out infrastructure and gained significant customer share.

The cost of getting and keeping those customers is still too high, but 3 is starting to look less like a mad plan and more like a telecommunications company, just when all the telecommunications companies are trying to look more like media companies. ®

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