Cricket expands retail presence with 400 Sam's Club locations

Cricket continued to grow its retail footprint with the addition of more than 400 Sam's Club locations.

AT&T's (NYSE: T) prepaid brand said consumers can now find its products and services in a total of 13,500 retail locations across the country. Sam's Club, a membership-only warehouse chain owned and operated by Walmart, is a natural fit for the wireless service provider, said Cricket Vice President of Sales Dave Fine.

"Offering Cricket at Sam's Club locations across the country makes perfect sense," Fine said in a prepared statement. "Our brands share a common goal of providing customers simple solutions to help them find incredible value on quality products and services." 

Cricket has been aggressively building out its retail distribution as the prepaid market heats up. In May it announced deals with Best Buy and the lease-to-own retail chain Aaron's, and in January Cricket President John Dwyer promised to continue to open more of its own branded retail locations.

AT&T and T-Mobile are locked in a battle for prepaid users through their respective Cricket and MetroPCS brands, and retail has become a key point of focus. MetroPCS has 7,500 dedicated retail locations, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in April, and plans to open 1,000 new stores this year.

AT&T posted 500,000 net prepaid additions in the U.S. during the first quarter, and an additional 450,000 in Mexico. T-Mobile posted a record 807,000 net prepaid customer additions during the quarter. Meanwhile, Sprint (NYSE: S) lost a net 264,000 prepaid users during the most recent quarter, and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) lost 177,000 net prepaid users.

Sprint hopes to regain its footing in that market, though, with a major overhaul of its Virgin Mobile Brand later this year. The operator recently appointed Jim Hyde as president of the Sprint Prepaid Group, naming Dow Draper as the chief of Virgin Mobile. Verizon remains the lone major U.S. carrier not pursuing prepaid aggressively out of fear of cannibalizing its postpaid customer base.

For more:
- see this Cricket announcement

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