Orange UK CEO Shake Up

Following reports that he wanted to leave, Bernard Ghillebaert will step down from his role as Orange UK CEO to make way for Tom Alexander, co-founder of Virgin Mobile.
Ghillebaert admitted earlier this year that Orange has lost its "sparkle" that made it a leading brand back in the 90s.

The move follows a review of the business by parent company France Telecom’s Olaf Swantee, head of European and Middle Eastern mobile operations after a slide in profitability at the UK arm.

Orange, third in the UK with 15.2 million customers, has suffered a fall in profits as competition increases and the market hits saturation point. Last year, average revenues per customer slipped from £263 a year to £257 a year.

Swantee said: “I want to make sure the person who leads the UK is part of the community, lives in the society every day of the week, and understands it.”

Enter Tom Alexander.

Alexander was most recently co-founder and UK CEO of Virgin Mobile which he ran from its inception in 1999 until its sale to NTL in 2006. Prior to Virgin, he was the deputy commercial director of BT Cellnet.

"Tom has the perfect pedigree to deliver continued growth in both Orange’s traditional and exciting new markets by focussing on our three key challenges of working more efficiently, improving the customer experience and optimising our market presence." said Swantee.

Ghillebaert has accepted a new group role in the executive team. As Executive Vice President of Sales and Customer Experience, he will be responsible for optimising sales and productivity on both the mobile and fixed sides in across all European operations.

Swantee said "Bernard has made an essential and lasting contribution to the UK business over the last three years in a period of extremely challenging market conditions. He has re-established Orange in a leadership position in our core consumer pay monthly business and laid the foundations for the future of Orange by successfully managing the integration of our mobile and broadband businesses so we now operate as one company, under one brand with one vision. I look forward to him replicating that success in his new role."

Ghillebaert will continue in his CEO role until Alexander’s arrival in December after which there will be a short transition period with Ghillebaert commencing his new role in January.

The move follows the removal of Sanjiv Ahuja as Orange’s global mobile operations head earlier this year as well as the departure of Eric Abensur, head of Orange UK’s broadband operations last month.

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