EE is to slash jobs in its b2b indirect channel team as part of a major strategy which will see around 350 head office jobs cut across the company.
The planned cuts have sent shock waves through the dealer and distribution channels, with partners fearing the redundancies are part of a wider plans to cut dealer and distribution partner numbers.
EE currently has around 70 indirect partners via distributors which include Midland, Mainline, Daisy and Chess and around 15 larger b2b partners which deal directly with the operator.
The cuts were announced to EE staff last Wednesday at a meeting held in a hotel on the outskirts of London. Sources say the restructuring will see at least a quarter of the 40-plus indirect channel team lose their jobs.
‘It was handled very badly and came as a complete surprise to staff at the meeting, which included those whose jobs are under threat,’ said one source.
One b2b source said: ‘EE is looking to massively wind down its corporate and SME channel. The whole channel is being restructured. The word is they are looking to let smaller partners go as well as some of their distributors, keeping on only the larger partners and possibly only Midland and Mainline (which are part owned by EE) as their distributors.’
A partner source said: ‘This is a channel which is already struggling. There is already a big conflict between the direct and indirect channels, if the indirect are left with a skeleton team they will stand no chance. As it is, you can wait four days for a response to an email from the team they have now. What will it be like after the cuts?’
Partners fear EE’s plan is to move away from the indirect channel with some predicting EE will push dealers to become MVNOs.
‘That will be fine for those with the resources, but it is not an option for a lot of the smaller dealers, said one source, adding: ‘This smells of predatory practice and it may come back to haunt EE. Consumers are already questioning their part in Phones 4u downfall. This does not make for good business.’
An EE spokesman said: 'As part of our strategy to expand UK-based customer service teams, and reach our goal of being number one for service, we need to make changes to our company structure. Consequently we're proposing changes to some of our corporate functions. We appreciate this will be a difficult time for the staff affected and will support them through this period in any way we can.'