T-Mobile slashes losses as turnaround takes hold

The management team charged with turning round T-Mobile's UK chain has reduced the sizeable losses reported last year by two thirds.

In the year to December 31 last year, T-Mobile (UK) Retail made an operating loss of£10.5 million compared with£32 million the previous year. Sales for the period increased from£50.6 million to£76.8 million.

Managing director Barbara Cook said she was delighted with the performance, because it had been achieved without a cash injection from parent Deutsche Telekom. Cook has restructured the management team and handed more responsibility to store managers since her appointment in September 2002.

The former Starbucks UK regional manager said she inherited a 'badly broken' business with a mixed store portfolio, owing to the acquisition of several smaller chains, such as One2One.

'Retail was the poor relation,' explained Cook. 'There was a lack of leadership, lack of focus and (T-Mobile) didn't know what it wanted to be on the high street.'

Cook said the 135-store chain was now growing market share as store managers responded to the new tactic. 'T-Mobile UK existed as the arm of a network, now it is a professional retail business that represents the brand on the high street,' she said.

Cook halted the aggressive roll-out planned by her predecessors, but says T-Mobile is back on the expansion trail with 15 of the 52 new stores planned for this year already open. It is targeting premises of about 700 sq ft (65 sq m) for the core store offer, plus 1,500 sq ft (140 sq m) sites for business centres.