Orange UK plans more shops, fewer Indian call centres

Orange, the mobile phone operator has unveiled plans to expand its chain of UK retail stores, and at the same time cut its use of offshore call centres.

The plans form part of a major overhaul strategy to be implemented by Orange's new chief executive Tom Alexander, who previously worked for virtual mobile operator Virgin Mobile.

In addition, Orange will invest in a new high-speed data network.

As part of its retail expansion plans, it will open around 60 new stores across the country to add to its existing 338 outlets and halt the expansion of its offshore call centre partnerships in India.

The changes will result in 500 new jobs in customer service and retail by the end of the year and a reduction of up to 450 positions in administration, management and support functions.

"We need to give our customers consistent quality - quality of network, products, service and experience," Alexander said in a statement. "Delivering that quality will see the number of customers who join, stay and spend with us grow."

In order to deliver a better network for its 15.8 million mobile customers in Britain, the company will rollout 450 new 2G base stations to improve basic phone coverage and invest further in its faster 3G network to provide services such as mobile TV and mobile internet.

It will also launch from next year a super-fast mobile network, offering speeds of up to 14.4 megabytes per second.

"If you look at sales of dongles (mobile internet) at the moment, it's a great growth area. Now, people are expecting internet access wherever they are and that's where we think we've got a great advantage in having fixed and mobile," he said.

Alexander, who joined Orange in January, told reporters he could see a time when the company no longer used call centres outside of Britain.


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