Stepping into Virgin territory

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It’s been two years since NTL:Telewest came along with £962.4 million and, after getting the green light from the High Court, acquired Virgin Mobile lock, stock and barrel.

The acquisition meant NTL:Telewest became the first ‘quadruple play’ service provider in the UK – offering broadband, TV, fixed-line and mobile – as part of its bid to become a giant media conglomerate to rival the likes of Sky and BT.

An exclusive 30-year brand licence with Virgin Enterprises meant the quadruple offering came to market under the Virgin Media brand.

Though Virgin Mobile retained its identity as a distinct unit within Virgin Media, the deal meant big changes for some – especially Rob Shardlow, who moved from being sales and distribution director at Virgin Mobile to indirect sales director of Virgin Media.

Earlier this year it also signalled a career move for former O2 general manager for channel execution Ian Driver, who became head of sales for the new brand.

Shardlow was recruited in 2000 to set up the indirect channel at Virgin Mobile when it became apparent the Virgin Mobile launch strategy (which relied on direct sales off the page and from the web) wasn’t going to do the job.

Alongside its own direct sales operation, Virgin Mobile concentrated on multiples and major retailers. Up to a couple of years ago, when it reined in its activities to concentrate on quality over quantity, the formula was successfully racking up around 2.5 million connections a year for Virgin Mobile.

Full feature available in Mobile News issue 423 (September 22, 2008).

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