E-cigarette shops are among controversial frontrunners to take on empty Phones 4u stores after the retailer collapsed this week.

Other prime candidates are expected to include bookies, whose expansion also polarises opinion, nail bars and charity shops.

Telecoms firms and coffee shops are also eyeing the retailer’s estate.

Phones 4u hit the buffers on Monday and administrator PwC immediately shuttered the 560-strong estate.

It was one of the biggest, and most sudden, collapses in memory and will leave gaps in many high streets.

Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson believed the same Phones 4u branches might also be suited to pop-up shops over Christmas.

He cautioned that the size of the shops was likely to limit interest.

He said: “They are fairly small units so you will not see convenience retailers moving into them in the same way as they did with old Blockbuster stores.”

He expected that Phones 4u premises would appeal to e-cigarette retailers, “which are growing significantly”.

The number of e-cigarette shops in the UK has grown to just under 600 stores, according to Local Data Company statistics.

Phones 4u called in administrators after EE followed Vodafone and O2 in pulling the plug on its contract with the £1bn phones retailer.

Vodafone and EE are separately in talks to acquire a handful of Phones 4u’s 560 stores. It is understood EE will hire any staff working in stores that it takes on.

Dixons Carphone, which is likely to benefit from the collapse of its rival, is saving the jobs of 800 Phones 4u staff.

It reached a deal with the administrators to hire employees working in Phones 4u concessions in Dixons’ stores, Retail-week.com revealed on Wednesday. The concessions will be rebranded to Dixons Carphone.

The demise of Phones 4u led observers to question the validity of its business model and whether it was well served by its private equity owner.

Mobile operators largely chose not to renew their contracts with Phones 4u in favour of opening their own shops, but the retailer’s debt levels are also thought to have played a part.

However, Dixons Carphone is thought to be protected from such changes. The business has become a more powerful channel for suppliers and its focus on service is attractive. Vodafone extended its partnership with Dixons Carphone this month.

Phones 4u founder John Caudwell blasted EE and Vodafone’s role in the collapse of Phones 4u and has called for an investigation.