Summary:

The telecoms giant is splitting its retail division in two, a major reorganization that is intended to help the company take on ever-stronger rivals in the consumer space, as well as to further its business broadband ambitions.

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BT Retail, the customer-facing part of the UK’s former monopoly telco, plans to split in two. The company said on Tuesday that it will be creating two separate businesses – BT Consumer and BT Business – in order to “better serve its customers and focus even more on delivering its strategic priorities”.

BT Group already has four main lines of business – BT Retail, Openreach (the infrastructure management side that counts BT Retail as a customer), BT Wholesale (the bit that lets other carriers resell BT connectivity) and BT Global Services (serving multinationals).

However, BT Retail itself currently also has four business units. Under the new structure, which will take effect from September, three of these will coalesce, namely BT Business (supplying small businesses), BT Enterprises (conferencing, fleet management and so on) and BT Ireland. These will continue under the name of BT Business, while the fourth element of today’s BT Retail – BT Consumer – will continue as a separate business.

The split should be fairly clean, although one element of BT Enterprises – the Wi-Fi division formerly known as Openzone – will jump across to become part of BT Consumer.

According to Gavin Patterson, the current BT Retail chief who will replace Ian Livingston as CEO of BT Group in September, the split will help BT compete more effectively in both the consumer and business markets. Consumer is a particularly rough space in the UK right now, with Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk proving to be serious competitors to BT.

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