Vodafone’s interim chief executive said the group “can do better” after it announced revenues were falling in some of its biggest markets.
Margherita Della Valle, who took on the role at the start of the year, said the telecoms group had made changes to improve performance.
“The recent decline in revenue in Europe shows we can do better,” said Della Valle. “We’ve already taken action, including simplifying our structure to give local markets full autonomy and accountability.”
Reporting results for the third quarter of the financial year, Della Valle conceded “there is more to do” but that she knows “what needs to change”, including providing better customer service and making the business simpler.
Investors and analysts have for some time called for the group to simplify its sprawling international structure and decentralise decision-making.
In Germany, Vodafone’s largest market, the group posted a 1.8 per cent drop in services revenue compared with the previous quarter, to €3.35bn, after it lost customers. Service revenue in Spain and Italy also fell, which Vodafone blamed in large part on price competition.
The UK was the only large market where Vodafone had growth, largely thanks to above-inflation price rises by most British telecoms providers. Revenue in the UK increased 5.3 per cent to €1.8bn.
Vodafone said it has started implementing inflation-linked pricing across eight other European markets.
Talks between Vodafone and CK Hutchison about a merger between their UK businesses are continuing, Della Valle said.
Overall, third-quarter revenues of €11.64bn were 0.4 per cent below the same period last year.
The group said it was still targeting full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between €15bn and €15.2bn.
Vodafone came under pressure last year when Europe’s biggest activist investor Cevian Capital took a stake and called for a shake-up. Cevian has since sold out.
Vodafone is looking to cut 500 jobs at its headquarters in London, Della Valle said. The company said in November that it would cut €1bn of costs by 2026.
Nick Read, whose tenure as chief executive between 2018 and the end of last year coincided with the company losing more than 40 per cent of its value, stepped down at the end of last year and was replaced on an interim basis by Della Valle, previously Vodafone’s chief financial officer.
Asked if she would like to stay on to lead the company, Della Valle — who has been with Vodafone for about 25 years — said: “I want simply what is right for the company.”