UPDATE: Mobile operator Vodafone’s Irish operation has revealed a 42pc rise in profits and 26pc revenue growth for its first half-year results. Worldwide, total group operating profit grew by 23pc.
Operating profit in Ireland rose to £136m sterling (€195m) from £96m sterling (€138.1m) in the same period a year earlier, the company said this morning. Turnover for the six months to 30 September was £378m sterling (€543.8), up from £300m sterling (€431m).
Worldwide, Vodafone declared a pre-tax profit of £5.4bn sterling (€7.76m) and revenue of £16.9bn sterling (€24.2bn) for the first six months of its fiscal year.
When measured in local currency, Vodafone Ireland’s turnover increased by 13pc. Operating profit before goodwill amortisation increased by 25pc also when measured in local currency. In a statement, the company said that its turnover benefited from blended average revenue per user (ARPU) growth of 4pc. This was partly due to “strong growth” in data revenues, which improved to represent 20.1pc of service revenues for the year ended 30 September 2003. By comparison, ARPU figures from the UK were 1.7pc and data revenues accounted for 15pc of service revenues.
Vodafone Ireland holds an estimated market share of 55pc and has a customer base of 1.8 million. Its nearest rival O2, which announced its results yesterday, has 1.2 million Irish customers.
Over the last year Vodafone Ireland acquired 98,000 new customers, with 38,000 added in the last quarter. The company said that the figures showed that it had maintained leadership in the Irish market since the introduction of Full Mobile Number Portability earlier this year.
Voice and data usage levels among Irish customers are the highest in Europe, according to Vodafone. The monthly average voice minutes per user (AMPU) in Ireland was 183 minutes. Today the company disclosed that the AMPU across the group was 126 minutes, to try and support its claims that Irish mobile users do talk more – almost 50pc more than the group average.
Ireland represented 3.3pc of all Vodafone live! sales in the first year of the service and has the highest penetration of handsets per subscriber base in the Group. The company’s statement also referred to “strong sales and usage” of its Mobile Connect Card, although it did not reveal exact figures.
Vodafone Ireland CEO Paul Donovan commented: “The figures released today are further testament to the fact that Ireland is one of the most mobile societies in the world. Consumption of voice services on the Vodafone network in Ireland is some 45pc higher than the Group average, and our data usage lags only behind Japan – a country famous for the early adoption of new technologies. The addition of almost 100,000 customers to our base in the year is further proof of the growing trend in Ireland of abandoning fixed-line communication in favour of mobile.”
Vodafone also announced that it has appointed two non-executive directors to its board – former Eircom CEO Alfie Kane and Paddy Teahon, who was previously secretary general to the Department of An Taoiseach. In its statement, Vodafone referred to the “mounting threat of competition from fixed market players, the threat of increased regulatory intervention and greater Government activity in the telecoms sector” as the reasons behind bolstering its board. Kane’s appointment will also add to speculation that his former company will re-enter the mobile market once its enforced moratorium expires next year.
By Gordon Smith