Vodafone to axe 375 staff in latest cost-cutting move

job cuts

Vodafone will cut 375 staff from its UK workforce starting this month as part of a wider 1 billion cost-cutting programme across its global operations.

Vodafone has 70,000 staff in 31 countries worldwide and 9,000 across the UK. It announced in a statement this morning that the cuts would be made primarily at its Newbury headquarters in Berkshire, where roughly a third of its UK staff are based.

"The roles affected are in a number of areas, across a number of locations, primarily in back office functions," the company said, before warning that there would be "additional changes as further efficiencies and natural attrition in these functions take effect."

News of the imminent job cuts first surfaced yesterday, with The Times reporting that "up to 500" jobs were on the line at Newbury, which experienced similar cutbacks in February last year. A Vodafone spokesperson was quoted as saying the rumour was "highly speculative".

Despite the cuts, Vodafone was at pains to make it clear this morning that it remained focused on growing the business, saying 170 staff would be added in "consumer-facing roles", while 50 graduates would be taken on in September from the 3,000 candidates in its UK graduate programme.

"We're committed to increasing the number of customer facing employees, which will help us simplify our business and continue to deliver outstanding communications services across the UK's best network," Vodafone HR director Matthew Brearley said.

In November, the company effectively doubled its target for cost savings in response to reduced global demand during the economic downturn. The existing 1 billion target was brought forward by a year, with a further 1bn in cuts pencilled in for the previous 2012 deadline.

At the time, chief executive Vittorio Colao said the savings would inevitably involve some staff cuts, though he didn't elaborate on numbers. Before today's announcement, the company had already moved to dissolve the management-level positions of director of consumer sales and retail director.

Last month, Vodafone announced better-than-expected third quarter revenues as the market showed signs of stabilising.