BT has recorded a 2% dip in fourth quarter and full-year revenues, down to £4.6bn and £17.9bn respectively, with only the BT Consumer business picking up the slack thanks to new broadband customers and growing take-up of its BT Sport offering.
In a statement to the City on 7 May, BT CEO Gavin Patterson said the firm had taken some key decisions and made major investments – not least the £12.5bn acquisition of mobile operator EE, approved by BT investors on 30 April – to underpin its future growth.
As a result of this, he said, pre-tax profit was up 14% to £1bn in the final quarter to 31 March, and up 12% to £3.2bn over the full-year period.
“Our superfast broadband network now passes more than three-quarters of the UK and we’ve announced plans to upgrade to ultrafast broadband. This will be another multi-year investment by Openreach and is the right thing for both BT and the UK, providing even faster speeds in an already competitive market,” said Patterson.
“We delivered our best performance for fibre connections in the fourth quarter, with Openreach adding almost half a million premises to our network. Our retail business delivered a record-breaking 266,000 of these connections.
“Our BT Sport TV channels are in more than 5.2 million homes, with the customer base growing again in the quarter. We’re pleased to have secured FA Premier League football rights for a further three years and an extension with Aviva Premiership Rugby for four more years,” he added.
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Besides the impending addition of EE to the fold, BT is also currently forging ahead with its own mobility plans, having launched a new BT Mobile consumer service in March.
New business products but little growth
On the business side, BT unveiled a number of new products and services, including BT Assure Threat Defence, BT One Phone and BT Cloud Voice.
While business remained tough in the UK public sector, there was still strong growth to be had in the Middle East and Asia.
Nevertheless, all BT units, bar the consumer business, saw declining revenues in both the fourth quarter and across the full year, with BT Global Services down 7% and BT Wholesale down 11%.
Patterson promised to continue to deliver on BT’s recent investments and continue to work to improve its service offering.
He pointed to BT’s recruitment of 2,500 engineers, 500 customer contact centre agents and 500 apprentices, and said that BT’s customer-facing lines of business all made improvements in service delivery and fault repair as evidence of this.
“But we recognise we’re not yet where we want to be and this will continue to be a priority for us,” he said.
In its outlook for the next financial year, BT said it expected to see revenues return to growth.