Definitions

The_Link_(retailer)

The Link (retailer)

The Link is an internet only mobile phone retailer in the United Kingdom. It was formerly 60% owned by DSG International plc, the UK's largest consumer electronics retail group, and 40% owned by O2, the British telecommunications company. The company is now wholly owned (as of June 2006) by O2, with the exception of The Link's website, which remains owned by DSG.

History

The Link now operates as an Internet only business at www.thelink.co.uk and predominantly sells contract and pay as you go mobile phones. However it still pushes items such as GPS, Laptops and even TVs.

DSG International opened the first branch of The Link in 1994 due to the demand for mobile phones and other communications products. DSG International also sells mobile phones in its Currys.digital (formerly Dixons) and Currys chains, but many of its high street branches are small and hard to expand, so it opened a separate chain to provide more capacity for mobile phone sales. It did a similar thing in the computer market when it purchased Vision Technology Group Ltd (VTA) who owned PC World which was quickly expanded into the huge force that it is today.

As of August 2005 there were 295 branches of The Link, spread across the UK. The Link's annual sales in 2004/05 were £428 million.

Nick Wood, the Managing director of The Link, left the company to take over the running of the failing Dixons chain of electronics retailers. After substantially turning around the fortunes of Dixons, he was brought back to replace his own replacement, Elizabeth Fagan, after poor performance of The Link under her management. He quickly made his mark, applying an easier to understand commission structure, and placed four "live" models of phones in stores, and expanded the product range to include MP3 players and satellite Navigation systems

The company were most distressed at losing several managers, namely Frank Murphy, Ian Darwin, Seth Jackson-Main, Mark Clemments and David Fairbrass.

The Link decided a rebrand was in order and the replacement of the older adverts with new, comedy sketches featuring the Ken and Kenneth characters from The Fast Show filmed outside the Islington store also briefly gave away Ken and Kenneth badges to tie in with the advert. selling mobile phones was a change that would hopefully drive sales. A new logo was created, and the in-store look dramatically overhauled. "Music" was seen as the main focus of The Link from this point, according to Nick Wood, and he hoped this would turn the fortunes around.

Competition

The Link's main competitors were Phones 4U, Carphone Warehouse and Dial-a-Phone, who offer a variety of networks to their customers.

The Link also had competition from the networks' own shops, namely 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile, as well as prepay competition from the likes of Woolworths and Argos. This was the reason for the late adoption of Vodafone as a post-pay network, which did not take place until 2002.

O2 buys out DSG

On June 21 2006, DSG sold their 60% share of The Link to O2 for £30 Million. The Deal included all of The Link's stores.

O2's purchase of The Link has meant that some stores have been rebranded as O2, and others are in the process of being sold to competitors. Of the 295 Link stores, a small percentage have been closed or sold to non-mobile phone related companies including Costa Coffee. Around half of the stores were rebranded as O2 with the majority of the remainder being sold to competitors such as Orange, T-Mobile and 3. The majority of Link staff in these stores remained employed by the new store owners, under Transfer of Undertakings (2006) UK regulations.

Online Only

As of January 31 2007, no branches of The Link remain open. It should be noted that this date is considerably later than originally anticipated. TheLink.com and TheLink.co.uk is still owned and operated by DSGi selling pay monthly and pay-as-you-go mobile phones on Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile and Three as well as mobile broadband and mobile services. The Link also offers a range of portable consumer electronics such as iPods, Sat Navs and Laptops, as well as LCD televisions; these products are available as gift incentives with mobile phone contracts or separately. It is rumoured that the last street sign from a former Link store sits proudly on the desk of a Link employee.

External links

References:

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