Vodafone instructed a delegation of around 20 direct dealer partners and leading Yes Telecom dealers at its annual enterprise event in Casares, Spain, last month it will not settle for third spot in its home market.
Vodafone trails O2 by around two per cent in the UK in terms of customer share, with O2 taking 27 per cent. The merger of Orange and T-Mobile in 18 months will force Vodafone into third however, as the joint venture will account for 37 per cent of UK customers on today’s reckoning.
Vodafone is putting hefty sums behind third-party SME connections, with leading O2 dealers reporting difficulties signing new business on O2 rates as a result.
It will restructure its Yes Telecom distribution business in the coming weeks, with the Yes Telecom brand likely to be dropped entirely, and all its dealer partners redirected through the wholly-owned Manchester division, banded according to the business they deliver. Its leading Yes Telecom dealers (Pure, Wish, Sprint and Phonebox) were invited to its enterprise summit for the first time.
Vodafone is also gearing up for a full-throttle launch of its OneNet unified communications proposition for the SME market, 60 per cent of sales of which it expects to go through the dealer sector.
Vodafone is looking to add a number of non-mobile resellers to its roster in the deployment of OneNet too, from the IT, PBX and fixed line markets.
“Vodafone does not want to be third in the UK market share rankings. It’s made it clear it’s not going to take this sitting down and is going to come out and be very aggressive in the market. It wants partners who can drive its new strategy and deliver its unified communications in the long term. It will not settle for third,” said one delegate from the Spain summit.
Another in attendance said: “It has finally woken up and realised it has lost its way in the UK recently. It realises there is money to be made, and ground to be made up, in its own back garden. It’s a great time to be a Vodafone partner right now.”
Said another: “It is on the offensive, it made it very clear it wants acquisitions. But it also wants new business in the right manner, positioned for its unified communications play.”
Vodafone played down suggestions its strategy has anything to do with the Orange/T-Mobile merger knocking it into third.
Vodafone head of indirect marketing Alex Windle said: “Regardless of what else happens, it’s crucial we develop relationships with partners that matter. The key message is about value, and we are adamant we want to develop long-term relationships with partners who drive real value to their base. It’s not necessarily about the number of connections, but developing long-term relations based on value and revenue from the customer.
“We are looking to strengthen our penetration in the SME market and also to expand the usage of data products particularly with our existing customers. Our convergence programme will shake up the market.”