Vodafone Group plc VOD has in its third quarter to the 31st December, reaped the rewards for having become what appears to be a sclerotic company whose management has had to seek refuge in jargon and obscurantism, always a sign of problems. India. for example has declined by 32.1% because it could not beat the competition. Later on one learns that Vodafone India merged with Idea Cellular and Vodafones revenue is now excluded from the results. Mud has a clearer consistency, there is a “more for more ” proposition and scale is being gained in “fixed”.
In what appears a desperate attempt to avoid being tied down it has even created a new geographical area which nobody has ever heard of before. No it is not Fantasy land but “other Europe”. Where is that one may ask. My first thought was that it must be the UK after Brexit but it isn’t. Anyway, wherever it is it fell by 24% which perhaps explains why they want to keep its location a secret. The “real” Europe fell by 2.8% , despite rises in the UK of 5.8% and 2.9% in Germany.
Group revenue fell by 3.6% overall, the decline being led by the “growth” regions of Africa Middle East and Asia Pacific. This is described somewhat optimistically as good commercial momentum.
Marks & Spencer plc MKS yesterday announced the closing of up to fourteen stores accompanied by the loss of hundreds of jobs, mostly in the impoverished parts of the country i.e the north.”we have to ensure we have the right offer in the right locations” trumpets the director of retail operations. The only solution which this blinkered executive can come up with is store closures, reduce the locations. Not a word about getting the offer right. Did it never enter her head that there may be nothing wrong with the locations for most of which she will not have any personal responsibility. The real problem could be and probably is with the offer for which she has direct and personal responsibility. Anyway blame the location, at least that way your job will not be in any danger, just those of the unfortunates at the bottom of the pile who will be being made redundant. As long as you keep making and trying to sell highly priced clothing for the middle aged and the elderly, more closures are bound to happen. Only when the name of Marks strikes fear once more in the boardroom of Primark et al will the closures stop. Your successor may come up with the idea of opening some new stores instead of just accepting the steady decline of what was once Britains leading retailer. But to do that, the offer will have to be right.