Sainsbury’s will be closing its mobile phone service on 15 January after operating for only two years.
The retailer’s mobile service “Mobile by Sainsbury’s” is a “virtual network” which runs on physical infrastructure provided by Vodafone. It is understood that the decision to pull the plug on the mobile service occurred after the retailer and Vodafone failed to reach an agreement to continue.
About 150,000 prepay and contract customers using “Mobile by Sainsbury’s” will be affected. The retailer said they will not be able to top up credit after November 14.
Vodafone and Sainsbury’s said in a statement: “We regret that Mobile by Sainsbury’s – a joint venture between Sainsbury’s and Vodafone UK – offering a mobile phone service to Sainsbury’s customers is ending and the service will no longer be available from 15 January 2016.
“Mobile by Sainsbury’s priority now is to help its customers and make sure they are inconvenienced as little as possible.”
The retailer launched the service to compete with the likes of Tesco Mobile – another mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Tesco Mobile is one of the UK’s largest MVNO, with over four million customers.
There has been speculation that Vodafone is planning to quit the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) market.
In documents submitted to the Competition and Markets Authority a few months ago TalkTalk suggested that Vodafone was leaving the MVNO market.
However, Vodafone has denied rumours the group is looking to quit MVNOs, stating that it will continue to operate in the MVNO market with partners such as Talk Mobile, Amazon, and Lebara.