Plusnet CEO Steps Down As BT Tightens Grip

BT Group is tightening its grip on its budget friendly ISP Plusnet, as the former UK incumbent conducts a reorganisation of its customer-facing operations.

Long-serving Plusnet CEO Andy Baker announced he is stepping down, amid reports that BT is completing the integration of the former Yorkshire-based ISP into BT’s Consumer division.

Formed in 1997, the Sheffield-based ISP has for years played on its Yorkshire heritage in its marketing campaigns, billing itself as a no nonsense broadband provider. It was acquired by BT in 2006, but has managed to keep its own identity by operating at an “arm’s-length” from BT, while benefiting from the advantages of being part of the wider group.

CEO departure

But this could be changing following the departure of Baker and the removal of the role of Plusnet CEO, although there are reports that Plusnet will retain some independence and will continue to be based out of Sheffield and Leeds.

According to the Yorkshire Post, almost all head office staff are set to be transferred to BT. All non-call centre workers face being TUPE’d across into the parent company from February 2020.

The report also stated that a “tiny” number of duplicate posts will be deleted but affected staff will be offered other jobs in the company.

Redundancies are reportedly “very unlikely.”

It seems that BT’s decision is because it wants to streamline its customer-facing businesses, which include mobile operator EE.

Baker reportedly said there had been an “extended series of conversations” about his and the firm’s future for much of this year.

“The time is right,” Baker is quoted as saying. “I have had an amazing six years. But I didn’t want to outstay my welcome. This is about the next chapter in Plusnet’s evolution.”

Plusnet has 1,678 staff spread across Leeds and Sheffield, and has an annual turnover of £410m

Plusnet will now be led by the CEO of BT’s Consumer division, Marc Allera, going forward.

Billing complaints

For years Plusnet has touted itself as a friendly no nonsense ISP. But it is fair to say that there has been problems in recent years.

In April Ofcom figures revealed that Plusnet and TalkTalk were ranked at the bottom of the broadband market, over poor connectivity, and issues with broadband speed.

Plusnet has also had a problem with its billing system for a number of years now, so much so that in 2017 Ofcom fined Plusnet £880,000 for continuing to bill customers for broadband and landline services after they had cancelled their contracts.

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Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

View Comments

  • A cynic might think 'nicely timed to occur after the EE deal is completed' - So avoiding any suspicion of BT trying to gain a monopoly over the telecoms market by the regulators.

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