Phones 4U is ramping up its store expansion programme under its new owners to take advantage of customers who prefer to buy phones in shops rather than online.

The mobile phone retailer was sold by private equity investor Providence to fellow private equity firm BC Partners last month in a deal worth between £600m and £700m. BC Partners managing partner Andrew Newington is to become non-executive chairman of Phones 4U.

The retailer will open between 30 and 50 stores this year, which is more than double the 15 it opened last year.

Phones 4U chief executive Tim Whiting said: “Last year the focus was on investment in our systems, stores and people. This year it’s about the opportunity to open new stores.”

Whiting claimed that customers are migrating away from online and instead choosing to buy in stores so they can seek advice on complex products such as smartphones.

He said that across the market the number of people purchasing mobile phones online had reduced as a result: “Shoppers want to try products and make sure they’ve got the right tariff.”

But he also added there is still “an opportunity to grow the online business”.

Phones 4U also plans open another 50 store-in-stores in Currys and PC World shops this year, after opening 57 last year. Whiting said the tie-up allows Phones 4U to target an older age group.

He added that Phones 4U would consider opening store-in-stores in other retailers to enable it to expand into other demographics.

He said tablets are another opportunity for the retailer. “The tablet market is in its infancy now, but there will be a broader range of them coming out and we’re excited about that opportunity. I expect to see growth in the tablet market.”

Carphone Warehouse pulled out of the laptop market last month to focus on tablets.

Apple’s iPad 2 launched last Friday and has reportedly already sold out.