9/12/2006 7:39:00 PM
Virgin sales chief on exit plans
Graeme Hutchinson, the longest serving sales director in the industry, has quit as sales chief of Virgin Mobile. He departs at the end of the month, after seven and a half years.
'I'm leaving Virgin Mobile at the end of September. I've loved every minute of working at Virgin Mobile. Changes are happening and I've got to act upon those changes myself.
'Before ntl bought Virgin I was sales and marketing director. As part of the change, that role ceased to exist. I worked as trading director looking, with [MD] Alan Gow's help, at the expansion of ntl products and services into our channels. I've decided that when it's all in place, staying on board as trading director is not the right move for me.'
Virgin Mobile MD Alan Gow told Mobile: 'Graeme aspired to running all the group sales operations. But at the moment, ntl's sales operations are not centralised in any way. They'll look at that in future, but it's not going to happen in Graeme's timescale.'
Hutchinson will be taking time off and working alongside his friend, rock legend Jimmy Page, helping out the ABC Trust which works with Brazilian street kids. But he intends to resume his career within three months.
A number of propositions are already on the table from within the industry, including some interest from other operators and MVNOs. The odds are likely to be short on an offer from The Carphone Warehouse, although a senior Carphone source quipped: 'After the money Graeme's made from Virgin, I don't know if we could afford him.'
Hutchinson will be on three months' gardening leave if he takes up an industry job, but said he favours a role with a young, growing company and could move elsewhere.
'I've had discussions with companies developing applications for delivery over a number of platforms, including mobile. Some are getting quite mainstream and scalable. I can bring pieces of the jigsaw together because of my sales and marketing skills and background in banking.
'I'm a young, hungry and vibrant 44, and I want to be as hard working as I have been. I'd certainly sacrifice my short-term earnings for long-term potential,' he added.
Exit prompts promotions
Virgin Mobile MD Alan Gow wrote to retailers last week announcing three management changes in the wake of Hutchinson's departure.
Paul Williams, Robert Shardlow and Brendan Cooling all get a promotion. Williams was head of stores and now becomes director of retail. Shardlow was head of independent sales and becomes director of sales and distribution, with responsibility for indirect channels.
Cooling is head of online and small business. 'Brendan is already doing this role, but his reporting line changes from Graeme to Joe Steel and will have more of a marketing element to it,' said Gow. 'Our ambitions in the [online] area are big and this change reflects that.'