NEARLY 100 jobs are hanging in the balance after Phones 4u went into administration.

The chain closed all its stores yesterday including 20 in Sussex in which 97 staff are employed.

Explaining that all its stores had closed, a message on the company’s website signed off with “the heartbroken Phones 4u team”. The 550-store retailer was plunged into administration after network operator EE cut ties with it.

All stores were closed yesterday pending a decision by the administrators on whether they could be reopened for trading.

Phones 4u’s 5,500 staff were asked to report to work yesterday to be briefed.

The decision by EE not to renew its current contract, due to end in September 2015, was described as a “complete shock”. It left the company without a single network partner after Vodafone said this month it wouldn’t extend its agreement.

Phones 4u chief executive David Kassler said last night: “Today is a very sad day for our customers and our staff. If the network operators won’t supply us, we don’t have a business.

“A good company making profits of over £100 million, employing thousands of decent people has been forced into administration.”

The process of appointing PwC as an administrator is expected to take place today.

Phones 4u said it remained a profitable business, with a turnover of more than £1 billion, underlying earnings of £105 million in 2013 and significant cash in the bank.

Stefano Quadrio Curzio, a representative of private equity group BC Partners, which owns Phones 4u, said: “Our overriding concern is for all the dedicated, hard-working employees.”

In a statement, EE said marketplace developments had “called into question the long-term viability” of Phones 4u.

Vodafone said it made repeated offers of a new agreement but could not reach “commercially viable” terms.

Customers who bought phones or took on contracts at Phones 4u are being told they will not be affected.