Latest News | 15 December 2022

Celebrating 25 years of being upwardly mobile

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Mobile phone company A1 Comms – whose business-to-business arm is known as Yappl – is celebrating a quarter of a century in business.

A1 Comms has gone from operating a single shop in Alfreton to selling millions of handsets across the UK every year.

Today, the company, which has an annual turnover of £156 million, employs almost 200 people in Alfreton and at its call centre at Darley Abbey Mills, in Derby.

Founded by Derby-born Paul Sisson, the company operates four separate brands – Buymobiles, Affordable Mobile, and its business-to-business telephony service provider Yappl – and sells phones and contracts on behalf of the biggest names in the industry, including Apple, Samsung, EE and O2.

Such is its reach and influence, one in five of the estimated 71.8 million mobile phone contracts currently active in the UK were arranged through one of A1 Comm’s brands.

The company recently celebrated its success at an event held at Derbyshire County Cricket Club, where around 160 people gathered and reflected on how A1 Comms has grown since it started life in 1997.

Back then, mobile phone use was in its infancy, with just 16% of households in the UK owning one.

At the time, Paul was selling office supplies, but was asked by a client if he could provide him with a mobile.

This gave Paul the idea to specialise in mobiles, and before long he opened his first shop – A1 Comms, in the centre of Alfreton – so named because Paul wanted to get to the top of the listings in the Yellow Pages.

However, nine years later Paul decided that he would make more money selling mobiles online and sold what was by now a chain of shops for £600,000.

The money was invested into a website called BuyMobilePhones, which later changed its name to Buymobiles.

Four years later, the company was ranked at Number 1 in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100, having recorded sales of £24.5 million, and the name also appeared on Derby County’s shirts after Paul agreed to sponsor his boyhood team.

Paul said: “Nobody could have imagined back in 1997 what we would go on to achieve.

“At the time we said that surviving the month was the aim, but we’ve managed three hundred so far and gone on to be one of the biggest mobile phone retailers in the UK.

“There have been some setbacks and high points along the way, including sponsoring Derby County, and as a local company that employs plenty of Rams supporters, that’s something we can look back on with pleasure.

“We’ve also seen mobile phones and the wider industry change enormously over the past 25 years and we’ve grown throughout everything that has happened.

“Congratulations to all our staff who have made that happen and here’s to the next 25 years.”

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