Smartphone mobile

Sainsbury’s will shut down its mobile network at the beginning of 2016 just two years after its launch.

“We regret that Mobile by Sainsbury’s, a joint venture with Vodafone offering a mobile phone service to Sainsbury’s customers, is ending, and will no longer be available from 15 January 2016,” said a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman.

“Our priority now is to help our customers and make sure they are inconvenienced as little as possible. We will continue to sell mobile phones and accessories in our 38 in-store phone shops and to sell handsets in over 300 of our stores.”

In 2013 Sainsbury’s followed in the footsteps of Tesco and Asda when it started its mobile service, run as a 50/50 joint venture with Vodafone. A source said the companies could not reach an agreement to continue. the service, and that the split was not something Sainsbury’s wanted. The Sainsbury’s spokeswoman told The Grocer it was “still looking at all of its options” and remained “very serious” about mobile. “We will look for the right partners going forward”, she said, and would not rule out working with other virtual networks.

Sainsbury’s launched its virtual network to compete against Tesco Mobile, which went live in 2003 on O2’s network and Asda Mobile - also on Vodafone - which launched in 2007.

Tesco’s virtual network is now the largest in the UK with around four million subscribers - in contrast, Sainsbury’s has around 150,000 subscribers