GameStop acquired 507 AT&T wireless retail outlets to become the largest authorized retailer of the nation's second-biggest mobile network operator.
The stores are located across 26 states and were acquired from national AT&T retailers Cellular World Corp., Midwest Cellular and Red Skye Wireless. GameStop declined to reveal the purchase price, but an executive told Bloomberg that it amounted to "the bulk" of the $475 million the company raised in a recent debt offering.
GameStop became a phone retailer in 2013 with the acquisition of Spring Mobile, an authorized AT&T retailer operating roughly 90 stores. The company now claims 1,421 AT&T Mobility stores as it continues to diversify beyond video games.
GameStop also is the largest retail distributor of Cricket Wireless, selling its products and services in 3,400 U.S. GameStop locations. Participating GameStop outlets offer a "dedicated Cricket consultant" trained to answer questions about AT&T's prepaid brand and to sell devices and services. Cricket customers can also trade in used video games at participating stores and apply money to Cricket services or products.
"Today's announcement showcases the strength of our relationship with AT&T and fortifies our diversification efforts," said GameStop CEO Paul Raines in a prepared statement. "With the continued investments in our Technology Brands business, we are on track to achieve our goal of generating $200 million of operating earnings in this growing segment by the end of 2019."
Carriers are increasingly looking to the retail level to target both postpaid and prepaid users as growth in the U.S. smartphone market slows. T-Mobile is aggressively expanding its retail presence to leverage the buildout of its LTE network in suburban and rural areas over the last two years, as Wave7 Research noted a few months ago. And Sprint said in February it would team with British consumer electronics retailer Dixons Carphone to open and operate as many as 500 Sprint-branded stores across the country.
GameStop to sell AT&T's Cricket offerings in 3,400 U.S. locations
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Sprint to partner with Dixons Carphone to open 500 retail stores