EE has appointed mobile industry veteran Suzanne Homewood as the interim head of franchise following news of the departure of EE franchise chief Brett Simpson this autumn.
Homewood joins the franchise team from EE’s business division where she was head of corporate account management from May 2009. Before that she was a sales manager with T-Mobile, joining the company in 2003.
Although Homewood has taken on the post on an interim basis, she is tipped by insiders to take on the role of head of franchise on a permanent basis following Simpson’s departure.
Homewood will inherit a franchise programme which sources claim is beset with difficulties. The programme was launched early last year with the trial of eight franchise stores. Back in October EE announced the rollout of another 14 franchise stores and in January revealed plans for a total of 100 franchise stores by December 2014, ushering the beginnings of a fundamental shift in the way its store portfolio of 570 stores is run.
However sources claim the operator has struggled to recruit franchise partners since the launch of the programme, hampered by high start up costs of around £200,000 per store and concerns around commission levels.
One source said the delay to the programme could impact on EE’s major review of its indirect retail partners, which will report at the end of this month. The review is examining whether the network should take a much more direct route to market. The source said: ‘This is a blow for those in EE who want to cut out the independents. Trying to take greater control on the high street via franchises is clearly not as easy as it first appeared.’
A source close to EE said the franchise programme is set to sail into calmer water under Homewood’s stewardship. He added: ‘Things will be a bit smoother. It will settle.’
EE confirmed last month that the franchise programme was running late, with fewer franchise stores opened than first planned, but insisted that the programme would return to schedule this year. An EE spokesman confirmed that Homewood has taken on the post of EE interim head of franchise but declined to comment further on the progress of the franchise programme.