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O2 chops away at middle-aged spread

400 middle management and 40 shops to go

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Around 5 per cent of O2's UK workforce is to go, as the company rationalises its management structure in the hope of becoming more customer-focused.

Quite where the operator has hitherto been focused we're not sure – on the shareholders perhaps – but now it is apparently going to target customers by getting rid of a few hundred managers, and having fewer shops too, though we're told the two things are unrelated to each other.

The management plan was announced before Christmas, though the reduction in staffing wasn't. The plan involves combining various departments and thus reducing the management required, with 400 being a rough figure to be established after the mandatory consultation period.

Just under 10 per cent of O2's shops will be closing in an unrelated development, which (we're told) will see greater investment in the remaining stores. One hundred stores will get a makeover, and O2 will be recruiting 250 more "Gurus", taking the number up to 400 – to help customers make best use of their shiny new handsets.

That should leave the number of retail staff unchanged, assuming the staff at the 40 closing stores can get jobs at the made-over sites, but failing that, retail staff are pretty easy to make redundant. O2's management might be harder to get rid of, particularly as some of them go to back to the BT (Cellnet) days and are well-represented by their unions. But O2 reckons it's overstaffed and over-serviced, and few customers will object to management cuts even if the measures happen to serve shareholders equally well. ®

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