EE to switch 80 per cent of direct partners to distribution in B2B shake-up


New strategy will see more dealers go through recently acquired airtime distributor Mainline

EE is to transfer a number of its direct B2B partners to distribution, reducing levels from 40 to around 10, as part of a radical overhaul of the channel.

All relegated partners will go through EE’s recently acquired airtime distributor Mainline.

The move, which began last year, is headed up by EE director of small business Mike Tomlinson, and designed to help grow the operator’s share in the B2B space – which is around 25 per cent.

Tomlinson told Mobile News the move will benefit all involved, adding: “Having Mainline managing more of our partners makes a lot of sense for everyone involved.

“The dealers will get better sup-port regardless of whether their EE relationship is primarily managed by Mainline or EE, and we’re working with each of our partners to determine the right fit and best level of support.

“Ultimately, this investment and improved support for our channel partners will help the dealer community drive more sales and will assist EE to continue to grow our share in the B2B market.”

Financial impact

EE partner managers began discussing its plans with the channel last week, with a number of smaller partners said to have already been moved.

Affected dealers switching from direct to indirect (Mainline) could see their ongoing revenue cut from 20 per cent to around 15 per cent, according to industry sources. EE insists, however,  that all current deals and financials owed will be honoured.

EE refused to discuss names of those likely to be dropped and insists no final decision has been made on who will remain as direct partners. However Mobile News understands all dealers part of its direct plans have now been informed. These are believed to be: Get Connected, General Comms, Rainbow, Azzurri, Voice Mobile, Scancom, Mobile Account Solutions, Charterhouse Voice and Data, A1 Comms and Advanced Mobile Communications.

New strict targets

Sources at a number of these firms claim EE has already issued strict targets of around 500 new mobile connections per month to remain in its “top tier”. It has been suggested a number of cur-rent direct partners that will soon be dropped, regularly connecting less than 100.

“EE wants to work more closely with its most valued partners, particularly those that only want to support EE. It’s no different to what Vodafone and O2 have done in the past – the only surprise is EE didn’t do it sooner.”

Another source, from a now former direct partner, added: “We have been expecting it. From a kudos point of view, we would prefer to be called a direct partner but at least with Mainline we will still be EE. Mainline already have a lot of dealers so, to give them credit, it makes sense. It is a firm and well thought-out strategy, my only worry is the impact on revenue share.”

The operator has been preparing for the switch since its acquisition of Mainline in December which has seen a number of internal changes.

The indirect team previously included head of indirect business sales Nigel Dean, Mark O’Meara, plus nine account managers and one account exec. This has since been cut to just Dean, three account managers and one account exec. O’Meara was made redundant in January.