Posted on Nov 19, 2020 at 8:11 PMUpdated Nov 19, 2020 8:59 PM
The harvest was poor. In the third quarter, SFR recruited only 25,000 new mobile customers, according to the results published this Thursday evening. The period from July to September however corresponded more or less to the period of deconfinement, this summer and to the start of the school year. Despite the lifting of traffic restrictions, the operator has not managed to garner as many mobile subscribers as expected.
As a reminder, at the same time last year, Patrick Drahi’s operator was still recruiting … 234,000 new mobile customers, almost ten times more than today. And in the second quarter, 99,000 additional subscribers had joined it, and this despite the first confinement which had frozen the market.
More aggressive competitors
SFR, the last of the four market players to publish its accounts this Thursday evening, is doing less well than its rivals. Over the same period, Bouygues Telecom was the big winner in mobile, with 181,000 net recruitments. It is ahead of Orange (+125,000) and Free, which for its part finished with 70,000 new mobile customers.
« In France, our performance was a little weaker than that of our competitors “Admitted Patrick Drahi, CEO-founder of Altice Europe (the parent company of SFR) during a conference call with analysts who have raised these weak recruitments on several occasions.
For SFR, this consequence is the choice of reason. If the operator has recruited less, it is because it has not cut its prices, unlike its competitors. ” The prices of our RED packages (the digital brand of SFR, NDLR) have remained stable while our rivals have had more aggressive strategies, explains Malo Corbin, CFO of Altice Europe. Of course, the promotional environment has improved from a year and a half ago. But it’s never a straight line. In a market with four players, there is always commercial aggressiveness. »
An increase in turnover and EBITDA
In 2018, to win back the thousands of subscribers who had left during the great crisis experienced by SFR, the operator had cut prices to make volume. The strategy had enabled it at the beginning of 2019 to overtake Free to once again become the second operator on the mobile with 13.5 million subscribers (and 14.6 million today).
Since then, SFR has sought to make less volume but more value, even if the operator does not in principle rule out future promotions as 5G arrives. Until November 23, for example, SFR offers a RED package of 100 GB of data at only 15 euros against 20 euros initially.
However, for SFR, this weak harvest does not impact its accounts. In the third quarter, its mobile revenue reached 889 million euros, the same as last year. Overall (fixed and mobile), its sales increased by 4%, to 2.7 billion euros, in particular driven by the recruitment of 113,000 customers in fiber, for an adjusted EBITDA up by 2.8% to 1 billion euros.