Retailer opens first standalone store this month
Virgin Mobile will open its first standalone store this month as it gears up to create a nationwide chain.

The mobile phone operator will unveil a 1,400 sq ft (130 sq m) flagship at Lakeside in Essex later this month, before opening two more UK outlets.

The three stores will be tested before Virgin Mobile's planned roll-out of the fascia next year.

At present, Virgin Mobile operates from 200 sq ft to 300 sq ft (18.5 sq m to 28 sq m) shop-in-shops at 100 Virgin Megastores and 19 WHSmith shops.

Trading director Graeme Hutchinson said: 'A fascia on the high street is the natural evolution after we extended our product from pre-pay to contract last year.'

He added that the fascia would allow it to roll out parent NTL:Telewest's 'quadruple play' offer, which includes mobile and fixed-line telephony, broadband and TV.

Head of retail Paul Williams said: 'Stores will have an urban look that is edgy and relevant to our 18- to 24-year-old target customers.'

Shoppers will be able to print photos and download games. The retailer hopes to offer its customers the opportunity to download music onto their mobiles by a tie-up with Virgin Digital.