Productivity play costs 3 retail boss

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In a sense, 3 UK retail sales director Ian Parpworth was victim of the kind of policy he skilfully executed himself in his time in charge of 3 UK’s retail operation.

As sales and marketing director Marc Allera (pictured), the man who took the decision to remove a management layer and hence Parpworth from his role, puts it, Parpworth oversaw a cost-cutting regime within 3’s retail operation that saved the company money and significantly boosted its productivity at the same time.

The same kind of rationale informed Allera’s decision, ultimately, to make the role of retail sales director redundant, where he sought greater clarity and consistency between his direct retail channels.

3 UK is performing well on the high street in relative terms, suggests Allera. It took 21 per cent of the contract market in Q4, and also took 26 per cent of the slight, but growing, 3G prepay market. As well, 3 remains market leader for mobile broadband in the UK, according to Allera, without giving precise detail.

The performance of its retail estate, which grew to 305 stores in the three years Parpworth was in charge (including the opening of 250 stores in 2007 alone), comes despite him slashing operational costs. 3 carried out a full review of working practices in April last year, as Mobile News reported.

Parpworth changed around store opening times and reviewed staff managerial positions in a bid to lower outgoings. In the past 12 months, Parpworth has overseen a further reduction in retail operational costs of 25 per cent year on year. Productivity has increased by 25 per cent at the same time. Customer experience results also showed an increase increase by 20 per cent, according to 3.

“Our productivity last year increased 25 per cent. One of the massive achievements by Ian, was he cut costs not jobs and increased productivity. Productivity was up and costs were down substantially,” Allera explains.

Now, Allera wants 3’s management structure simplified, its direct retail channels to be more consistent and its sales to improve. The only marked difference in strategy terms between Parpworth’s 2009 retail programme and Allera’s late management review is the latter affects staff; or more precisely Parpworth, the man responsible for the former activity.

But Allera is clear. Parpworth exits the company on good terms, with a ringing endorsement from Allera himself.

Full article in Mobile News issue 460 (March 29, 2010).

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