Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the entrepreneur behind easyJet, is believed to be planning to rekindle his mobile ambitions in the UK by launching a similar service. His last foray into the market collapsed last year when his network partner, Denmark’s TDC, was bought out by a private equity consortium including KKR and Apax Partners.
Do the public forgive and forget that easily? When EasyMobile closed just over six months ago, it left around 80,000 customers with a month to choose between moving to Carphone Warehouse MVNO Fresh or simply get a refund. At the time the company seemed pass the blame to their partner, the Danish mobile operator TDC, for pulling the plug. TDC said it was a “change in strategy”.
Here’s what I had to say on the subject at the time – and my thoughts are still pretty much the same.
Tesco, Sainsburys, M&S, and (to a lesser extent) Virgin are good brands to run an MVNO as they’re an existing brand with a strong retail base. Stelios has a bunch of internet cafes, an airline, cruise ships, a car rental company and most recently pizza delivery. I’m still at a loss how this whole lot is bought together as a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœlifestyle brand package’, a la Virgin, or a brand extension to give your existing huge customer base, like the other aforementioned large retailers. By the way on the car rental side, I’ve used Easy a few times – but only when I found out National/Alamo were behind my local outlets, hence I can save money by going via Easy and not direct.
Also, one wonders what sort of contract existed between TDC and Easy. As far as I remember, Virgin Mobile is quite tied together legally between Virgin Group and T-Mobile, and I’d imagine the same goes for Tesco and O2. For TDC to just ‘suddenly’ announce it’s pulling out and leaving all Easymobile’s customers effectively high and dry – with an option of either porting (to another network or Fresh), or a refund – and all of this within literally a few weeks – it’s not going to help the reputation of the Easy brand.
Lastly, I’ve never even been offered an Easy mobile. Never seen an outlet selling them, or know of anyone who’s with them. Maybe I haven’t spent enough time hanging around Luton airport, hired enough cars, or been in one of their internet cafes lately to have someone try to flog me a handset.
Their site says 80k UK customers, no mention about Germany. Also I notice they launched a while back in Holland – wonder what’s happening there?