EE is leaning on a supermarket as it looks to put its shops within 20 minutes’ drive of 95 percent of the UK's population.

The mobile operator has extended an agreement with Argos, owned by supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, to add 100 stores inside the outlets of both retail brands.

EE began trialling the “store-in-store” set-up in 21 Argos outlets last year.

The new deal includes the creation of 400 new retail jobs by the end of 2019, by which time EE said its total real estate would stretch to 700 stores.

The BT-owned company said it planned to launch a range of other new formats, including “Showcase” stores that give customers the chance to try out the likes of Google Home and Samsung VR headsets.

Pop-up shops and vans that will serve customers in the most remote areas are also planned.

EE Chief Executive Marc Allera said: “We provide some of the best customer service of any mobile operator in the UK, and we’ve learned there’s no substitute for getting help from an expert in person.

“I know our customers prefer to talk to real people in our UK and Ireland call centres rather than receiving help from a bot, which is where many other companies are investing.

“We’re investing in more people in our customer service teams, more stores for them to serve customers from, and exciting new technology that will help our teams provide even better service.”

EE did not figure in The UK Institute of Customer Service’s annual ranking of best companies earlier this year.

O2 and Tesco Mobile were the only telcos to make the top 50, which was topped by Amazon.

Read more: The cook, the telco, the retailer and their customers

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