EE has announced the ending of its relationship with Carphone Warehouse, hot on the heels of a similar announcement from O2 a few months ago and the recent closure of Carphone Warehouse high-street stores.

Representing less than a third of the market gross adds, Carphone Warehouse is going to struggle to be viewed as a true comparison distribution channel. Its future probably lies elsewhere.

The closure of Carphone Warehouse stores, and now the diminished appeal of its website/off-high street stores, is positive for the operators.

The slow recovery in UK mobile continued this quarter with a 1ppt improvement in service revenue trends.

In spite of operator guidance to the negative, the sector is likely to remain relatively resilient in the face of COVID-19 in the short term, with its various impacts affecting operators differently depending on their business mix.

The outlook is relatively robust with the impact of some regulatory initiatives muted by lockdown measures and the annualization of some financial drags from the middle of next quarter.
 

The UK mobile market was steady this quarter at around -2% ahead of out-of-contract notifications hitting from February.

The mobile sector is playing an important role in tackling COVID-19 and is likely to be relatively resilient in the short term with a broadly-neutral financial impact. Longer term it will be exposed to the fortunes of the economy.

Elsewhere, there have been green shoots of positivity in the outlook: some good regulatory news; a degree of price inflation; Carphone Warehouse’s retreat is a positive for the operators, and some financial drags will drop out as the year progresses.

Dixons Carphone (DC) has announced the closure of all of its standalone Carphone Warehouse stores, distributing solely through its Currys PC World stores and online going forward.

Several industry trends have led to these difficulties and DC is pivoting its strategy to better position itself for the new reality.

This move is likely to be a positive one for the mobile operators, especially H3G.

UK mobile service revenue growth stayed positive in Q3 2014, albeit at a slightly lower level than last quarter, an achievement given performance in recent years, but a slight disappointment given the previous improving trend. Pricing trends were a little worrying, but data volumes continue to accelerate markedly

With Phones 4U ceasing to trade towards the end of the quarter, Q4’s subscriber shares will be largely determined by where its prior customers end up. With these representing 13% of market gross adds which implies 65% of net adds, the impact is significant

Merger talks underway with the parents of O2/EE and BT, with H3G reportedly getting involved, will have an impact whether they lead to a deal or not; if either EE or O2 (or both) remain independent within the UK, they will likely need reinvigorating and re-motivating as to their raison d’etre or risk drifting without a clear direction

 

CPW’s key operating metrics worsened again in the March quarter, with connection volume growth dropping to -19% and like-for-like revenue growth dropping to -5.5%

Weakness in the UK prepay market continued to affect CPW’s results, with volumes again down 30-40%, but contract sales did not mitigate this as much as last quarter, with growth in the UK but declines in continental Europe

Prepay is not likely to improve until the end of 2012, as the volume decline annualises out and more smartphones are available at prepay price points, and contract recovery is dependent on economic recovery

Enders Analysis co-hosted its annual conference, in conjunction with BNP Paribas and Deloitte, in London on 19 January 2012. The event featured talks by 13 of the most influential figures in media and telecoms, and was chaired by Sir Peter Bazalgette. An edited transcript of notes taken during the speaker presentations follows.

The speakers were Sir Martin Sorrell (CEO, WPP), Glen Moreno (Chairman, Pearson), Martin Morgan (CEO, DMGT), David Levin (CEO, UBM), Dan Cobley (MD, Google UK & Ireland), Mike Pocock (CEO, Yell), Vittorio Colao (CEO, Vodafone), Charles Dunstone (Chairman, Carphone Warehouse, TalkTalk Group), Stephen Carter (President, Alcatel-Lucent EMEA), the Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP (Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport), Neil Berkett (CEO, Virgin Media), Liv Garfield (CEO, Openreach) and Ed Richards (CEO, Ofcom).

Carphone Warehouse’s Q3 2011/12 volume and revenue was severely hit by a steep reduction in UK prepay volumes, with prepay subsidy cuts driving a drop in the UK market of as much as 40%

However, stronger volumes of higher margin contract handsets drove a small improvement in gross profit for the quarter

The unexpected prepay weakness means that Carphone Warehouse’s handset business will have roughly flat operating profit in its 2011/12 financial year at best, although given the negative external factors this would reflect a strong underlying performance

Carphone Warehouse’s H1 2011/12 results were overshadowed somewhat by the announcements that it is shutting down its UK ‘big box’ consumer electronics venture and selling its share in the Best Buy US handset business

Its actual core business operating performance was grim, with drops of 12% in volume and 4.5% in like-for-like revenue in the September quarter, with the slashing of prepay subsidies in the UK hitting volumes, and the late arrival of the iPhone 4S hitting revenue

With the iPhone 4S having now launched, H2 is likely to be much better, with like-for-like revenue returning to growth, and a focus on the core business will help in weathering the economic headwinds to come