Phone group poised to enter industry

The Caudwell Group, owner of phone retailer Phones 4 U, is gearing up to launch into the mortgage market.

The group has appointed a group director of mortgages who will soon start work on developing existing lifestyle products.

David Ginivan, spokesman for the Caudwell Group, says: “Nothing has been decided yet. We do have a director of mortgages starting but it’s not known when. They will help develop the group’s existing lifestyle products. We are not ruling anything out but can give no details at the moment.”

It is rumoured that if the new director is a success they will get the bonus of an equity stake in the new operation.

The group, whose subsidiaries include The Mobile Phone Repair Company and 20:20 Logistics, had a turnover of 1.95bn in 2003 and predicts a turnover of 3bn by 2007.

Caudwell’s Lifestyle Services Group provides insurance products for the business-to-business market.

The group was formed in 1987 by brothers John and Brain Caudwell, developing from a small dealership in mobile phones to a wholesale distributor. It was named the UK’s fastest growing company for two years in succession in 1996 and 1997, increasing turnover from 13m in 1991 to 1bn in 2000. It employs more than 6,500 people worldwide.

Rob Clifford, managing director of mortgageforce, says strong retail distribution is key to the success of a company, and that is what the Caudwell Group has.

But he adds: “The intermediary market is pretty crowded at the moment although some firms are doing an excellent job of retaining customers and market share. Any company with strong retail distribution is going to look at offering things such as insurance and mortgages.”