Orange’s new UK CEO, Tom Alexander, started his first day in charge of the network last week, with trade partners calling for ‘major root and branch change’.
Orange’s trade partners – manufacturers, retailers and distributors – have said the operator has lacked focus and drive for some time.
Sources within Orange’s own retail stores have reported flat sales for several months. The company has resorted to some exceptionally low-end deals in the prepay market over Christmas, in a bid to boost subscriber numbers ahead of its annual results.
Orange admitted last year that its brand has ‘lost some of its sparkle’.
Olaf Swantee, Orange’s group chief, said the issue of convergence would be top of Alexander’s agenda, when the former Virgin Mobile founder and CEO was appointed in October last year.
Swantee said Orange needs to ‘deliver on the promise of total communications to our customers’, adding that Alexander has the right qualities to ‘deliver continued growth in both Orange’s traditional and exciting new markets’.
Orange has had a series of senior management changes in recent months; head of broadband, Eric Abensur; Sanjiv Ahuja, Orange’s group mobile chief; and Bernard Ghillebeart, Alexander’s predecessor as UK CEO, are all leaving the business.
Orange maintains that it had one of the strongest quarters in Q3 last year on contracts, in terms of new customers’ ARPU and cutting churn.
The operator also has some strong assets in the form of its broadband infrastructure and has one of the biggest broadband customer bases in the UK. It is well ahead of rival operators such as O2 and Vodafone, who are also adding fixed-line broadband propositions.
Orange is also set to launch Orange TV on the back of its experience in France, despite delays which have put back the launch into the new year.
One senior industry figure said: ‘Tom [Alexander] has a fair bit to fix. He will need to inject the dynamism back in, and that will mean some major root and branch changes.’
Another senior channel partner described dealing with the network as ‘like walking in treacle’.
Many expect Alexander to reinvigorate the Orange brand, drawing on his success at Virgin Mobile. He is reported to be bringing in some of his former colleagues into executive roles at Orange.