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BT has reported better than expected quarterly sales on Allison Kirkby’s first day as chief executive but warned that the telecoms group would continue to lose broadband customers this year.
The FTSE 100 company said on Thursday it was on track to meet its forecasts for the year on the back of a 3 per cent rise in adjusted revenues in its third quarter year on year to £5.34bn, on a pro forma basis, higher than analysts’ consensus.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation inched up by 1 per cent year on year, in line with forecasts.
However the company said it would continue to lose broadband customers this year due to “ongoing weak” conditions in the market, adding to its challenges as it tries to fend off growing competition from rivals.
BT, which has committed £15bn to the rollout of full-fibre broadband across the country, lost 369,000 Openreach broadband customers in the nine months to the end of December, about 2 per cent of its total.
The company said it would now miss an initial target of 400,000 line losses in its current financial year, having first flagged that it could miss that figure towards the end of last year.
BT is facing competition from dozens of alternative network providers — or “altnets” — who have raised billions in the race to roll out full-fibre broadband across the UK. Last year outgoing chief executive Philip Jansen said BT was losing out to rivals who built full fibre in rural regions first.
However, the company said it was making progress on building the network, with Openreach passing 13mn premises with a take-up of 34 per cent — more than halfway to its 2026 target of 25mn. It is also planning to reach up to 30mn premises by the end of 2030.
Shares rose 4 per cent in early trading before settling up at around 1 per cent.
Kirkby, who was previously a non-executive director at BT, is tasked with turning around performance at the company, including at its business division, which was created from a merger of its enterprise and global divisions in 2022. The unit reported a 17 per cent drop in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation to £403mn in its third quarter.
The company said this was due to higher input costs, legacy declines and prior year one-offs, which was partly offset by cost transformation and growth in small and medium business and security.
Kirkby takes over after Jansen announced cuts of up to 42 per cent of the company’s workforce by the end of the decade last year. In November BT said it had delivered £2.5bn in annualised savings and that it was on track to meet a £3bn target by its 2025 financial year.
Kirkby said BT remained “committed to our purpose and our strategic focus” and she was looking forward to leading the group into its next phase of development.