LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Carphone Warehouse Group PLC (CPW.LN), the U.K. mobile phone retailer and telecommunications services company, Wednesday said it will accelerate its store roll-out plan in the third quarter.
Carphone opened 130 new stores across its operations in the first half of fiscal 2006.
Chief Financial Officer Roger Taylor told Dow Jones Newswires that it intends to slightly accelerate its expansion in the third quarter heading into the key Christmas trading season, before slowing down in the fourth quarter.
Taylor said sales of third-generation, or 3G, handsets have increased but he argued it is the increased functionality rather than the technology that is driving growth.
He said music has proved popular with consumers, with both Motorola Inc.'s (MOT) Rokr iTunes handset and Sony Ericsson's W800 Walkman music phone selling well.
He said music will be a big driver for sales over Christmas, as will high-quality camera phones. He added that he expects the pink edition of Motorola's successful Razr handset to sell well over Christmas.
Taylor said that over the second quarter, phones from handset manufacturers Nokia Corp. (NOK), Sony Ericsson and Motorola all sold well across its operations. He said these manufacturers have performed well against some of the newer market entrants like Sharp Corp. (6753.TO) and LG Electronics Corp. (066570.SE), compared with a year earlier when Asian manufacturers gained market share at their expense.
Amongst the operators, Taylor said O2 PLC (OOM.LN) continued to do well in the second quarter. He added that both Virgin Mobile Holdings PLC (VMOB.LN) and 3 UK, owned by Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (0013.HK), continue to compete aggressively.
Taylor said the company is interested in bolstering its telecom business and will look at assets that are "formally up for sale." He said the company will consider acquiring Centrica PLC's (CNA.LN) One.Tel telecom business as well as the fixed-line business of Cauldwell Communications. He said it is harder to see a complementary fit between its retail business and other assets like Cauldwell's Phones4U and DSG International PLC's (DSGI.LN) The Link stores.
At 0702 GMT, Carphone shares opened 1.9%, or 3.75 pence, higher at 198.75 pence.
Company Web site: http://www.carphonewarehouse.com
-By Nic Fildes, Dow Jones Newswires; 44-20-7842-9264; firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires"
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