BT reorganises its retail operations into consumer and business divisions

BT is splitting its major division into two to focus on consumers and businesses, though this involves merging BT Enterprises — aimed at big businesses — with the one aimed at SMEs.

BT Sevenoaks building with logo
Photo credit: BT

BT Retail, the main customer-facing part of BT, is being reorganised with four divisions being consolidated into two: BT Consumer and BT Business. BT Consumer's main job will be "driving broadband-based consumer services" in competition with Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk. BT Business will aim at "being the brand for business for UK SMEs", among other things.

The change will take place on September 1 when the current head of BT Retail, Gavin Patterson, takes over from Ian Livingston as BT Group Chief Executive.

Two of BT Retail's current businesses — BT Enterprises and BT Ireland — will be merged into BT Business, headed by Graham Sutherland. This will include BT Conferencing, BT Payphones, BT Directories, BT Fleet, BT Redcare, BT Expedite and Fresca, and BT Tikit. However, BT Wi-Fi (launched as Openzone) and the consumer part of BT Ireland will be moved to the Consumer division, BT says.

BT Retail accounted for almost 40 percent of BT's group revenues last year, but results from the new divisions will not be split out until the next financial year. However, BT Consumer will be investing heavily in 4G mobile communications and BT Sport, which is spending £738m on live Premier League football rights to battle Sky.

BT Business's phone books and payphones seem rather dull in comparison, but perhaps Sutherland can come up with some innovations to excite business buyers. The plan to offer FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) with 300Mbps downstream and 20Mbps upstream speeds, announced on July 10, could certainly be part of an attractive offering.

BT Retail is currently one of BT's four main divisions, the others being BT Global Services, BT Wholesale, and Openreach. BT Wholesale provides services, such as ADSL broadband, that other companies resell under their own names. Openreach is the operations division that was split off at the behest of Ofcom, the UK's telecommunications regulator. It is intended to provide the same level of service to BT customers and to customers of third-party resellers, though BT Retail is by far its biggest customer.