Fone Logistics back in Vodafone fold

Fone Logistics back in Vodafone fold

After a turbulent time, Newcastle-based distributor Fone Logistics is back in the Vodafone fold, with a newly inked Vodafone deal under its belt.

The deal comes three years after the firm was dumped by Vodafone as as part of the operator's move to consolidate its distribution channels.

This good news comes as a welcome change for Fone Logistics. The Newcastle-based distributor has taken a battering over the past year.

In March, the company lost a swathe of business when operator 3 took its third party call centres in-house, forcing the distributor to make staff cuts.

Six months later Fone Logistics dealer Marmalade went bust owing the distributor over £400,000.

Then last week, a restructuring of the company inflamed persistent industry speculation that the firm is trying to hide financial problems, despite strenuous denials from the distributor.

So it is no surprise that Gillespie is thrilled to deliver news of the Vodafone deal, pointing to it as clear evidence of Fone Logistics’ financial health. 

‘We are here to stay,’ Gillespie says, defiantly, dismissing industry speculation as ‘laughable’.

He continues: 'We have been very open with all our partners about [the restructuring] and they are happy with us and I think that says it all. Would Vodafone sign up with us if there was a problem? Not at all,’ he argues.

The deal sees the distributor working with a select number of partners to make B2B airtime connections to Vodafone via Yes Telecom.

Gillespie is keen to emphasise that the deal will not detract from the service it gives its other network partners. He says Fone Log  will not select dealers that are already working on its other network accounts.

'We want to be seen as a distributor of choice with a range of networks. To offer Vodafone brings real strength to the business and compliments that portfolio. I believe the dealers can get incremental business for all the networks,' he adds.

The new partners will also have to be prepared to go 'beyond voice', as Gillespie puts it.

'We want partners with vision for the future who are prepared to invest in the technical side of mobile rather than just voice,' he explains.

To this end, Fone Logistics will be looking for a 'small number' of both mobile and internet dealers comfortable with technical convergence. 

Partners will also need to be approved by Yes Telecom. Fone Logistics will oversee their training and support and will closely monitor their performance. 

'This is where distributors add value,' says Gillespie, pointing to Fone Logistics’ online dealer access portal as an example.

Gillespie was always hopeful of a new deal with Vodafone. He explains: ‘The door was never closed to us to come back, since it was never about our performance but about Vodafone’s strategy… I have a 25 year relationship with Vodafone. They see us as a good distributor and so here we are back again.'

Painful as it was, Gillespie says the loss of the original Vodafone deal meant the firm was better prepared for hard times when the recession hit.

He explains: ‘Losing Vodafone got us ready for the economic downturn. We looked at our cost base and we took swift action. It wasn’t easy but we have always had a policy of managing costs responsibly.'

See the rest of this interview in this week's Mobile

Written by Mobile Today
Mobile Today

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