Baldock is convinced that with the Carphone stores out of the way and customers soon able to take up less punitive contracts, the unit will come good. After all, it dominates the intermediary market.
But that won’t be for at least another three years. The company is now warning that the pandemic is likely to delay the return of the mobile phone arm to profitability, meaning it is not expected to break even until 2023 at the earliest.
By then, almost a decade will have passed since the £3.8bn merger of Dixons and Carphone Warehouse, a deal that the City was assured would create “a new retailer for the digital age”.
Baldock should seize the moment and jettison the entire mobile phone operation. After all, the mess isn’t his, it was inherited, and every other major company is using the cover of the pandemic to make decisions that would have seemed too drastic, painful, or costly before the crisis.
Even he admits that the outlook will be highly uncertain for the foreseeable future, and thanks to lockdown he’s already discovered that phones don’t sell nearly as well online as electrical goods.
There might be a slight disturbance in the force when it happens but the retailer would be better off for it.
One final reversal is needed
U-turns are common. People change their mind all the time. But a U-turn on a U-turn? A recipe for getting lost.
Still, that hasn’t stopped it happening at the Competition and Markets Authority, where its boffins seem thoroughly befuddled by Amazon’s attempts to buy a 16pc stake in food delivery specialists Deliveroo.
Having initially blocked the deal last year, the watchdog changed its mind in April, on the highly dubious basis that without Amazon’s investment, Deliveroo would collapse because of coronavirus, thereby reducing competition. The ruling promised to provide something of a first: Big Tech as a defender of consumer choice. Then in June, the regulator admitted that with hindsight such a scenario was probably a bit of a stretch, but the deal would be allowed to happen anyway.