The CPW story

We’d like to take you back to 1989. A time when technological dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Not only wasn’t there any wi-fi or GPS. There wasn’t any Internet. The iPhone wasn’t even a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye. Mobile phones cost more than £1,000 apiece, weighed more than an encyclopaedia, and had less than 20 minutes’ talktime before the battery ran out. When it came to practical, usable mobile communications, carphones reigned supreme. Because you needed a full-sized car to take the weight of the battery.

That’s the world we were born into. Started by two friends – one of them being Charles Dunstone – with £6,000 of savings, and based in a rented flat. And right from our conception in 1989, we believed in thinking and acting far ahead of our time. Our ethos was all about offering customers unbeatable service, along with the finest technology on the market. And as the market evolved at a dizzying rollercoaster speed we were right there keeping pace with it, going from our first store in Marylebone to new ones outside the UK in Paris and Dublin.

Since then, it’s fair to say we’ve come a pretty long way. Today we’re Europe’s largest independent phone retailer, with over 800 stores and 8000 people. But our underlying business philosophy and basic principles haven’t changed a bit. Now as then, it’s short, sweet and simple. Looking after the customer. And being a great place for good people to work.


Charles Dunstone founded The Carphone Warehouse in 1989 with just £6,000 of his own savings.


The first store opened on Marylebone Road in 1990. The company’s Head Office and Contact Centre were located in the basement.


Carphone Warehouse held their first annual Ball.


Carphone Warehouse wins ‘Best Mobile Retailer’ award.


The business grew organically and opened its first The Phone House branches outside of the UK, in Paris and Dublin.


There was a series of acquisitions both in the UK and Western Europe, including Tandy.


Carphone Warehouse was floated on the London Stock Exchange.


Awarded ‘Retail Employer of the Year’ and ‘Customer Service Initiative of the Year’ in the prestigious Retail Week awards.


Carphone Warehouse opened Europe’s largest Mobile Phone Store on Oxford Street, London, and became the sole and direct supplier of mobile communications to the Royal Household for the next five years.


TalkTalk was launched.

Awarded Corporate Partnership of the Year at the UK Charity Awards 2003 for our work with Get Connected. Get Connected helps young people with a range of serious emotional issues, including relationships, abuse, sexuality and mental health.


Awarded ‘Best Mobile Retailer’ for the tenth year in a row.


Launch of Virgin Mobile France as a joint venture between Carphone Warehouse Group plc. and the Virgin Group. Launched as the major alternative brand to traditional operators in the French market.

Ranked 6th in Sunday Times’ Best Companies to Work For.


Entered into two commercial arrangements with Best Buy, a leading US consumer electronics retailer. Firstly, the launch of Best Buy Mobile, an independent mobile retail format in the US. Secondly the launch of the Geek Squad, a home technology support business in the UK.

Also chosen as exclusive independent iPhone retailer for launch of Apple’s first phone.

Ranked 13th in Sunday Times’ Best Companies to Work For.


Best Buy acquired 50% of the Carphone Warehouse Group’s mobile phone retail and distribution business, creating Best Buy Europe.


Best Buy Europe launched Best Buy UK, its Best Buy-branded ‘Big Box’ store format and later its online proposition.


Ranked 12th in Sunday Times’ Best Companies to Work For.

Our ‘Walk out Working’ service won the award for the best Innovative Service voted by Mobile News.

One of our store managers won the Store Manager of the Year from Mobile Magazine for the third year in a row.


With the sale of Best Buy Mobile and closure of Best Buy UK stores, Best Buy Europe now consists of its core European retail business, CPW Europe.

Awarded the Employee Communication or Training Solution of the Year at the Retail Week Technology Awards for our internal mobile app.

Geek Squad our Technical Support Partner was awarded a 5* Defaqto rating for the second year running.


Awarded Large Best High Street Retailer and Airtime Distributor at the Mobile News Awards.

Carphone Warehouse end 5 year joint venture with Best Buy and with this, the return of Carphone Warehouse to its original shareholders, with Charles back at the helm as Chairman.

Awarded Best High Street Retailer at uSwitch and What Mobile Awards.

Awarded Most Admired Companies for Retailers – Specialist.