Sainsbury’s and Vodafone have brought on mobile industry veteran Ian Clarke to help launch their MVNO joint venture, Mobile by Sainsbury’s, this summer.
Clarke, former O2 board member and a non-executive director of Tesco Mobile, has joined the MVNO team as interim chief operating officer. It is not clear whether his role will become permanent. Industry sources said Clarke will bring a wealth of experience and inside knowledge of Tesco Mobile to the new MVNO.
Clarke is a mobile industry veteran, leaving BT in 2001 to join O2, where he became a board director in 2007. His final role was as chief transformation officer, leading the board in a major business restructuring. Clarke’s other roles at O2 included group and devices director, products and operations director and non-executive director of Tesco Mobile, O2’s joint venture MVNO with Tesco.
Since leaving the company in March 2010 Clarke has acted as a troubleshooting consultant. He spent six months as a non-executive adviser at Tech Data Mobile advising on its services strategy before joining Mobile by Sainsbury’s last month. One source said: ‘He’s a really good guy, very smart, very adventurous in his approach and very well connected. He will bring Sainsbury’s a huge amount of experience from his days at O2.’
Another industry player said: ‘He is a fixer. He has a talent for getting to the heart of the problem fast, setting up systems and then handing them over and moving on, but I wonder if this time he will stay. Heading up the MVNO might suit him.’
However, another questioned whether he would be keen to lead the MVNO in the longer term. ‘He is very competent, a grafter. But he is not interested in making a name for himself. He just wants to get the job done.’
Clarke is joined by Emma McLaughlin, who is the marketing director at the MVNO. Her previous role was head of prepay proposition at Vodafone Group. Before that she was Vodafone’s senior manager of postpay propositions.
McLaughlin takes over the marketing director’s role from interim marketing director James Gray, who held the role from October 2012. Gray was a key member in establishing the MVNO, working on the project since June 2012. Before that he led the One Net sales team for eight months, moving there from his post as head of marketing at Vodafone’s wholesale division.
Sainsbury’s mobile project manager Brad Marshall is also understood to be working closely with the MVNO team. He joined Sainsbury’s in July last year from Vogue Distribution. Marshall is responsible for setting up the retailer’s mobile proposition as well as the launch of Sainsbury’s mobile phone shops.
Both Vodafone and Sainsbury’s declined to comment.