The largest players on the GSM retail market have announced plans to expand their networks by over 250 stores this year, both through acquisitions and by opening new stores, particularly in shopping centres.
Orange, the largest player on the local mobile phone market, plans to reach a 100-store network from 77 at present. Vodafone, the second largest mobile phone operator, has already undergone an aggressive network expansion – both through takeovers and organically. Vodafone’s store network more than tripled in less than two years. The mobile phone operator had 90 stores of its own last year, and now has 233 stores, after the acquisition of Petrocom (57 stores) and of Proton (73 stores).
Company officials did not specify whether they planned to expand the network or make any further acquisitions. However, rumors are circulating on the market suggesting the operator will take over the Vegastel retailer, currently a partner of Orange. For mobile phone operators, having their own store network is important, given that all new products and services can be launched easily. Partner networks take longer to adopt sophisticated products, such as Mobile Internet service offers.