EE is eyeing further deals with large reseller partners, following its partnership deal with Azzurri Communications. The operator’s partnership deal, announced last week, sees Azzurri sell EE’s products and services to its enterprise customers under the Azzurri brand, while also selling EE’s b2b services to its smaller SME clients under the EE brand.
EE is Azzurri’s second network partner. The O2 Centre of Excellence partner will continue to work with O2 in the enterprise space but will hand over its existing SME clients to O2, following its deal with EE.
Speaking to Mobile, Mike Tomlinson, EE b2b marketing director, said the network is on a mission to grow its b2b share of the market signi?cantly this year, with the Azzurri deal a key part of that strategy. He said EE is keen to ink similar deals. Tomlinson said: ‘We want to grow our b2b share of the market. We already do that directly from within the organisation but if we can ?nd partners that are already established, with a decent chunk of the market and an operator model that lets them trade, then it is an easier way to grow. So we are looking for new, larger partners with growth engines to help us.’
Tomlinson added: ‘If we are to make a dent in market share we need someone big to help us. There are only about 10 to 12 partners out there across the networks that ? t that pro? le. Azzurri is one of them.’
He went on: ‘We have no plans to do a similar deal right now, but we de?nitely have the desire. These deals take some time, as there really are only about 10 to 12 suitable candidates across the networks. But we are recruiting partners. We want to recruit the right partners, especially large partners.’
Tomlinson said EE had been attracted to Azzurri’s breadth of services and its diverse customer base. ‘It was very obvious they were so much more than just box shifters. They also have a lot of non-mobile customers too, so they bring a lot to the table.’
He added: ‘With the terms of our new relationship and the strength of our network, I believe Azzurri will do a lot of business with us.’
Chris Jagusz, Azzurri CEO, added that the EE deal, which allows it to sell EE enterprise products under Azzurri’s brand, will give the company ‘a lot more commercial ? exibility’ while giving EE the opportunity to achieve ‘a step change’ in market share. Speaking to Mobile ahead of the launch, Jagusz said O2’s recent decision to launch a review of its top partners, scrap its Centre of Excellence programme, and roll out a new partner scheme next April, had not in? uenced the deal with EE.
‘Our discussions with EE predate O2’s decision,’ he said, adding: ‘The fact is we like to offer choice to our customers and so we were keen to have a second relationship with another network. This will open up the market considerably for us and offer us more services to sell to our customers.’
Azzurri’s deal with EE follows a turbulent period for the company which, over the past two years, has seen a swathe of redundancies, the haemorrhaging of key management personnel to rival companies, and the departure of former CEO Vim Vithaldas for ‘family reasons’.
Jagusz, who joined the company in August last year, said Azzurri is in a much stronger position now, with a strong management team, new sales director Brendan Lynch, who joined in September, and record sales. He added: ‘We have just delivered our best quarter in the past 18 months in terms of sales – which we owe to a sales force that has regained its stride, strong customer con?dence and our fantastic product portfolio, which has really resonated with our customers.
Business as Usual
Mike Tomlinson said EE’s acquisition of distributor Mainline in December last year will make no difference to its other distributor partners. He said: ‘It is neither good nor bad news for our
distributors. It leaves everyone where they were. Every single one has a distinct relationship. Each one is strong. They all play a big part. Some are quite innovative, like Exertis, some are good at scale, like
Daisy, then there is Carphone Warehouse Business, which is switched on to strategy, and of course we still own a chunk of Midland. As I keep telling the channel – sometimes, there is no bad news!’