Peter Edwards: 1948-2009


Peter Edwards, who passed away on December 27, was one of the main characters and drivers of the mobile business in the UK.

He was a figurehead of service provision in the UK mobile industry in the 1990s. He was managing director of Talkland, the UK’s biggest service provider for five years, until its purchase by Vodafone in 1996.

Edwards became managing director of Vodafone Retail when it was created in July 1997, combining all mobile phone outlets under the Talkland, People’s Phone, London Car Telephones and Astec Buzz names.

He left Vodafone Retail within a year after spearheading a radical £35 million revamp of its 240 outlets and moved to  UniqueAir, which was also acquired by Vodafone in 1999.

Carphone Warehouse then took him on to manage its facilities management business Value Telecom.

He retired from the industry at the start of the decade and spent most of his time in Cyprus.

Keith Westcott, sales and marketing director of Service Graphics, dealt with Edwards when Westcott was running Ericsson.

“Peter did not always see eye-to-eye with everyone in the industry. However, I always found him a very straight person to do business with. He always fully delivered on every deal I ever did with him – the first done over a very entertaining lunch somewhere near Banbury.

“I left the lunch not sure if I was happy or gutted with the deal.

However, it turned out to be the start of a great business, and later personal, relationship. I was always happy to receive some wise words from him. He was a real character who I will miss.”

Ex-Cellnet and Vodafone marketing director Stephen Brewer commented: “His energy and (mostly) gentle madness was infectious. I remember when I was at Cellnet presenting to the Talkland sales team, who erupted to a motivating performance of ‘Simply The Best’ with Peter leading the way. Great days; full of fun, growth, and profit”.

Carphone Warehouse chief executive Charles Dunstone said: “Peter was one of the truly great characters of the mobile industry. He had great clarity of thought and an instinct to act, which is hard to find today. He is a sad loss to us all, and I send my sincere condolences to his family.”

Avenir managing director Andy Tow worked with Edwards in the 1990s. “He was most successful at Talkland, pioneering the service provider concept, and often flying by the seat of his pants.

“Peter was probably most productive in an owner-manager environment, and often mentioned that he was not suited to working within a large, ponderous, slow-to-market corporate structure.

“He was one of those few individuals who can truly lay claim to having demonstrably made a difference to the mobile phone industry.”

Chris Jones, a director at telco Sunrise Associates, recalled: “Peter was an incredibly enthusiastic and creative individual. I remember the exciting times I had with him when I was at Nokia.

“His negotiation tactics were always creative and mostly enjoyable. He was an innovator; a great motivator and a visionary individual.  I am very sad to hear of his death.”

Phones International MD George McPherson worked with Edwards at Talkland.

“I knew of no one better at change of management and business re-engineering. He was an inspirational leader and passionate about customer service with many a deal done over a glass or two of wine. I will remember the good times.”