Revenues at Vodafone Ireland fell in its financial year to the end of March, as the mobile phones and broadband giant faced continuing tough competition.
Mobile phone companies are usually a very reliable guide to underlying economic conditions, and across its global operations Vodafone posted a key rise in quarterly sales for the first time in almost three years, in the clearest sign yet that Europe’s mobile market is edging towards recovery.
But revenues in Ireland for the full year fell 2.6% to €935.8m, as the company was squeezed by competition in its inter-operator business and in the pay-as-you-go mobile phone market.
New business from large companies however helped Vodafone grow revenues in its enterprise segment, and it posted an increase in customers using its data, fixed-line and broadband products.
“In a highly competitive market, our performance demonstrates a continued improvement in trends during the year proving the effectiveness of our strategy which is to become the total communications provider of choice in the Irish market,” Vodafone Ireland chief executive Anne O’Leary said.
The company said it has 2.3m customers in Ireland, of which 2m are mobile users. Customers of its fixed-line and broadband services increased 10% in the year to 282,300.
With the ESB, it continues to drive a €450m investment programme in high-speed broadband in 50 towns. Around the world, Vodafone has 446m mobile customers.
Group-wide revenues showed it posted a slight increase in underlying revenues in the fourth quarter following 10 quarters of declines. That was helped by 6% growth from the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific division and an improvement in Europe where it fell by 2.4%, compared with the 2.7% fall in the previous quarter.
“For some time now, Vodafone has been trying to shake off the shackles of being regarded as a company which is ‘ex growth’ and [the] annual reflection points toward some future promise,” said Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers.
Analysts believe the European mobile market is set to stabilise in 2015 and 2016 and should return to top-line growth after that, helped by demand for the more expensive fixed-line fibre services and superfast 4G mobile connections.
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