2/26/2009 2:37:00 PM
Mobile speaks to Carphone chief Andrew Harrison
Mobile: I saw the announcement.
Harrison: Yes, we have announced 450 roles are up for redundancy this morning. We have 12,500 people in the UK.
Mobile: Can you give us a bit of background about the review?
Harrison: I think that as you look outside into the world and the economy – it’s pretty evident that we are not the only ones doing it. I think as we look out not necessarily on how we performed for the year – our figures have been quite strong – we look out on a quite uncertain future for retail and have to be clear that in that world you are going to have to be much more cost effective because consumers are demanding more value and lower prices, while at the same time cost of goods that we are buying, with the state of the pound, are going up. So we have to be aware as we look out at other retailers that we have to be fit to survive. This is a process throughout the business which is not just affecting people but is looking at all the costs we operate. We have grown at quite a pace over a number of years and we need to take stock and look at how we have structured ourselves and think, is there in times ahead a more efficient ways to run the business? How we have done it is look at the customer at the heart of it and how to impact as few people as possible. This largely doesn’t affect any store roles, it is not about taking people out of the front line roles, it is about reorganising the way we do things from a support perspective.
Mobile: That is quite a lot of jobs to dispense with. What can you look at?
Harrison: There are a number of call centre roles that come out of reducing amount of calls made. Higher reliance on knowledge management that we’ve invested in, which means we have reduced the number of calls.
Mobile: What about stock?
Harrison: There are a lot of process changes. There are other things that we will outsource to other people. More transactional types of roles.
Maybe collecting money from suppliers, or accounting, or roles in our central payroll. Outsourcing – we will look at outsourcing to take on transactional roles. The rest of it is a general reshaping of a number of departments to do things more simply and more structures.
Mobile: Will you take money out of marketing?
Harrison: There will be different things we do in marketing but we are trying to give ourselves a head start to try and invest in areas of the business. We are trying to open a number of stores and we need capital to do that.
Mobile: You must want to see prices coming down?
Harrison: We‘ve always wanted that! I think anybody needs to work out how to do it – manufacturers need to work out ways of reducing their pricing. How you tally your economics to new commercial realities of world. That’s what everyone is trying to do. If car and house prices are going down 20 or 30% you are going to expect that from mobile phones, at a time when we are seeing rising component prices.
Mobile: How do you see fortunes of business against rising component prices?
Harrison: I think there are two things. One is that there is a focus on high value phones – I think there is a bit of a problem there. But I think Nokia has pulled an ace out of the pack with the 5800. While everyone is bringing out high-end touchscreen, they bought out middle of the road. People are looking for new profit tools – I think content and services is the buzz word here.
Mobile: Who is potentially going to be a winner and benefit from this?
Harrison: I wouldn’t want to predict a winner. I think manufacturers have committed themselves to open systems. The networks have in the sense got to make their revenue so will need to be content players.
Mobile: Are there any other players in this?
Harrison: Yeah there are lots of new people, look at the application and development community. It is a large area. If you look at application downloads for Apple – that community is springing up. For a trade thing there is a whole new opening on linking the mobile community with the application community.