UK's largest network operator BT to cut 42% of jobs after fiber rollout

The company's workforce will drop to 75,000 to 90,000 people by the fiscal year ending in March 2030 from about 130,000 currently

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By Thomas Seal

BT Group Plc said it plans to cut its labor force, including employees and contractors, by as much as 42% by the end of the decade after the UK’s biggest network operator completes its nationwide fiber-optic rollout. 
The company’s workforce will drop to 75,000 to 90,000 people by the fiscal year ending in March 2030 from about 130,000 currently, the company said in its full-year earnings statement on Thursday.

Chief Executive Officer Philip Jansen has been quietly shrinking the workforce in recent years as he works to grow profit, targeting savings of £3 billion ($3.7 billion) a year by the end of 2025 versus its 2020 cost base. The company’s been weighing more dramatic job cuts since at least 2019. 
“By continuing to build and connect like fury, digitize the way we work and simplify our structure, by the end of the 2020s BT Group will rely on a much smaller workforce and a significantly reduced cost base,” Jansen said in the statement. 

BT is upgrading its national copper-based network to higher-speed fiber connections, and plans to make the more modern infrastructure available to 25 million homes by the end of 2026. Once that’s done, and internal systems have been upgraded, the company will need fewer engineers and technicians.
The company had 97,148 full-time employees as of the end of March with about a third of those working for its Openreach network division. 

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BT posted adjusted fourth quarter earnings of £2.05 billion before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. That compared to the £1.99 billion average forecast from analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The company also hit a long-term target for full-year earnings of £7.9 billion that Jansen had originally set out in 2020.
The company’s stock is up 32% so far this year.

First Published: May 18 2023 | 1:00 PM IST

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