Cable group Virgin Media – which has thousands of customers in the West Midlands – has beaten expectations for underlying second-quarter profit.
However, the group, which claims to have Britain’s highest broadband speeds and reaches more homes than its rivals, said it lost 19,500 net customers in the normally weak second quarter, taking the total of residential customers on its cable network to 4.74 million.
Underlying operating profit rose six per cent to £333 million, thanks to incremental cost cuts and efficiency measures. Sales slipped slightly to £990.5 million, broadly in line with expectations, while the average revenue per user fell to £41.63 per cable customer per month from £42.16.
``In the face of a tougher national economic environment we continue to focus on improving our operational execution and driving unnecessary cost and inefficiencies out of the business,’’ chief executive Neil Berkett said in a statement.
Virgin Media, which offers cable TV, fixed- and mobile-phone services and broadband, said it expected to add more customers in the second half than in the first.
It also said it aimed to continue to reduce churn - the proportion of customers cancelling contracts - after gradually shrugging off a reputation for poor customer service.
More important than increasing overall customer numbers was encouraging them to sign up for more expensive services, Virgin Media said. It increased triple-play customers - those who sign up for cable, phone and broadband - to a record 53 per cent.
Virgin competes with BT and Carphone Warehouse in its key broadband business. It added 54,600 broadband customers in the quarter, compared with BT’s 103,000 and Carphone’s 41,000.