Mobile phone retailer Phones 4U plans to ramp up its store refits in the new year with the aim of completing the whole chain by the middle of 2010.

The retailer will complete the revamp of its 450 shops to its updated format and also open a third trial shop-in-shop within a Currys Megastore.

The refurbishment programme began in October and Phones 4U has so far completed about 80 stores in a five-week period before taking a break for the peak Christmas trading period. The fit-outs will begin again early next year.

Retail development director John Welsh said the new-look stores included product densities up by 30% to 40%, more product hero areas including a special area for iPhone products, and laptops have been moved on to wall displays. There is also the scope for live display areas.

Welsh said: “The new stores are brighter, cleaner, have more display storage and new wallpaper, which gives the stores a more contemporary feel and more messaging.”

Phones 4U and Currys are extending their store-in-store trial to include a Phones 4U area within a reformatted Currys Megastore in Southampton early next year. Phones 4U opened a sales area staffed by its own personnel at Wednesbury, Birmingham in August and more recently at Thurrock, Essex, at the end of November.

Welsh added: “This is intended as a six-month trial, which we are about three and a half months into. It has been going well for us, allowing us to reach customers that might not normally shop our high street stores.”

The shop-in-shops focus on the chain’s mobile phone offer and do not stock products or offer free products with purchases that are available within the main Currys store to avoid any overlap. BlackBerry, Nokia and Samsung branded areas are also being created for the Phones 4U areas.

“We are very upbeat about Christmas,” added Welsh. “We brought in our extra staff early this year so that they would be fully trained up. We have the iPhone for the first time and we also expect strong sales of smart phones, plus the usual uplift in demand for pre-pay phones.”