Premier Telecom targets 100,000 connections landmark

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Achieving its aim would give Premier the biggest base ever built by an independent dealer

Vodafone platinum partner Premier Telecom says it expects its customer base to top 100,000 within the next 18 months.

The Whiteley, Fareham-based dealer currently manages a connection base of more than 70,000, and achieving its 30,000 growth would give it the biggest base ever built by an independent dealer.

Former Vodafone SME sales director Rob Shardlow joined the company as group sales director in April; he has been given the task of reaching the ambitious target and claims the company is already ahead.

Premier Telecom managing director Darren Ridge (pictured) told Mobile News the company will reach the landmark figure through a mix of acquiring other Vodafone bases from independent dealers, as well as through organic growth.

Ridge said he was happy to talk to any dealer about their base, provided it has a history of low churn and high ARPU. Premier typically targets customers with between 10 and 50 connections.

He added there were “a couple” of potential targets being looked at, but discussions have yet to begin and he refused to reveal their identities

Its last acquisition occurred in November 2010, when it bought Richmond-based FGE Mobile Phones for an undisclosed fee, adding about 4,000 Vodafone customers to its base.

Premier is also actively recruiting for additional sales staff and business development managers. It has about 150 staff in total across five offices in Whiteley, Leeds, Hereford, Southampton and Camberley.

Premier was named platinum partner of the year by Vodafone in April, and also picked up the award for best One Net performance.

Ridge said: “We were the first to get to 50,000 Vodafone customers and I want to make sure we’re the first to get to 100,000. Rob has set a target of achieving that before the end of next year and currently we look like we’re ahead of that.

“The strategy is to continue to grow organically and look for acquisitive growth. There are businesses that have been around a long time and some will go backwards, so their best strategy is to speak to somebody like us, and we’re happy to talk to anybody.”

Shardlow added: “Our primary target is to go after 10-50 seat businesses in the SME space. Vodafone has around a 35 per cent share in that area, so for Premier the real opportunity is to go after the 65 per cent of the market that is available.”

In the last issue of Mobile News, Evolve Telecom, which is believed to be Vodafone’s second-largest platinum partner, with 40,000 connections to the network, claimed its business was well set to take the top position from Premier Telecom.

However, Shardlow dismissed that idea: “I’m not remotely concerned by what other partners are doing. I don’t see other partners as being competitors of ours. Our competitors are the likes of Orange, O2, T-Mobile and BT. We aim to be the biggest Vodafone platinum partner, but we can be significantly bigger and stronger and my role is to help Darren achieve that.”

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