Mobile phones retailer Phones 4U has begun a consultation period with 290 in-store administration staff.

The third-party mobile phone retailer, which has more than 450 stores in the UK, has proposed a restructure as it overhauls the way it operates its stores.

Phones 4U said that it will relocate most of the staff affected to 200 new roles in customer-facing positions. The decision reflects the mobile phone sector’s attempts to focus on customer service and Phones 4U’s bid to increase market share.

The retailer said: “If the proposal does go ahead, Phones 4U will offer full support and assistance for all those affected and it is anticipated that the vast majority of those staff will be able to be redeployed into the new customer-facing roles.

“Unfortunately, a small number of redundancies may arise as part of this proposed restructure, although it is hoped that the final number will be less than 30.”

The redundancies are the outcome of a £3m investment in staff training last year. As a result Phones 4U reduced the need for as many in-store administration positions. The retailer will invest a further £5m in training this year.

Phones 4U said it will continue to invest in people “despite the tough economic climate”.

The retailer maintained: “The company continues to perform profitably and recent growth in market share has driven the need for an increase in customer-facing roles. However, to maintain the company’s position for the future it is now looking to streamline time spent on non-customer activity.” Pre-tax profits in the year to December 2007 slumped to £22.5m from £81.8m the previous year. Sales dropped from £782.2m to £650.6m during the period.

Phones 4U entered into a consultation period with 60 head office staff in support functions last August.

Separately, Vodafone UK has secured the last 10 sites of 50 new store locations revealed in an expansion plan last year. The initiative has created 200 additional customer-facing roles and will give Vodafone UK 400 stores.