Ikea to offer 1.4m loyalty customers mobile phone service

LONDON - Ikea is to launch a ready-made mobile phone service to customers of its 1.4m strong loyalty scheme in a challenge to rival offerings from Asda, Tesco and Carphone Warehouse.

The Swedish furniture chain will offer the Ikea-branded mobile phone package to members of its loyalty programme from Friday.

All 9,500 Ikea staff in Britain will also be presented with a handset and £5 worth of free calls.

The retailer is teaming up with the German-owned mobile phone network T-Mobile, which will allow Ikea to piggy-back on its network.

Network owners are keen to team up with high-street retailers on such schemes because it uses up otherwise wasted network capacity.

The most high-profile example of this partnership is the T-Mobile backed Virgin mobile venture, which has 435,000 customers.

Ikea's service does not involve fixed monthly payments and instead requires customers to make an initial £10 airtime purchase.

Rival mobile networks to T-Mobile are stepping up their efforts to sign agreements with commercial partners as they seek to generate extra revenue through wholesale deals.

Orange is said to be close to signing a deal with Lycamobile to target Britain's immigrant population, while Vodafone recently inked agreements with Asda and Carphone Warehouse.

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