Virgin Mobile plans big comeback - TechCentral

Virgin Mobile plans big comeback


Anton Landman

Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Virgin Mobile South Africa has set its sights on a million subscribers over the next three years and hopes a new product proposition it will launch before the end of the year will be the platform that allows it to achieve this.

The company has downplayed suggestions that it has fallen on hard times in what has become a much more competitive mobile industry.

In 2011, Cell C sold its 50% stake in the business. Richard Branson’s Virgin Group later diluted its shareholding in the MVNO by selling a portion of its shares to Dubai-based telecommunications company the Friendi Group. The two companies signed a “strategic partnership agreement” and merged their regional telecoms operations to create a combined entity called Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa.

“What we have done over the past year was to first get the basics right in terms of our IT infrastructure,” Virgin Mobile South Africa CEO Anton Landman tells TechCentral. “Particularly, we focused on getting the efficiencies that we needed and getting customer care in place while working on a new product proposition.”

Landman says Virgin Mobile has done a lot of research on what the brand means for customers. This has led to the development of new products, which will be unveiled soon. “There are things I think our competitors will find difficult to match,” he says, without adding much by way of detail.

What he will say is that music will be a key focus area for Virgin Mobile in future. “We are making a very conscious decision to get back into music. We believe it resonates very well with the Virgin brand and is part of our heritage,” says chief operating officer Jason Hair.

Landman joined Virgin Mobile as chief financial officer in March 2012 before being named as CEO in July last year. “Since last year, we have been Ebitda positive — Ebitda is a measure of operating profit — and we are continuing to grow more profitable,” he says.

Virgin Mobile has invested in new IT systems to drive its goal of reaching a million subscribers in three years. These include new customer care and customer relationship systems.

Landman won’t say how many customers Virgin Mobile has now, but in 2013 it was reported that the company had 500 000 subscribers. He says Virgin is keen to go after tech savvy customers.

When Virgin came to market in 2006, the MVNO concept was foreign to South Africans, says Landman. With the introduction of more players in this space, most notably Mr Price Mobile — launched recently with the help of former Virgin Mobile boss Steve Bailey — Virgin Mobile’s market profile should be lifted.  — © NewsCentral Media


  1. André Pretorius on

    I don’t care about “These include new customer care and customer relationship systems.” give me more for my money if you want my business. I don’t want music, I don’t want gimmicks – I want to be able to make calls and send messages but have a lower bill at month end. Give me that first, then we can talk about extras. That’s how you keep me there.

  2. This speech was meant for investors, not consumers. The more profitable a company is, the less value for money the consumers get.

  3. An attractive product is what gets you new clients, great customer service keeps the existing clients coming back for more. I for one has moved from mtn to 8ta as 8ta’s customer service is simply excellent. With 8ta I can actually ‘speak’ to a real person within seconds, that usually solves any issue first time. Mtn had a cheap product offering, but I could not wait for the 24months to end to move to a better service provider.

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