'Future is bright' in Hull says KCOM CEO despite half-year results showing overall revenue fall
Bill Halbert, CEO of KCOM
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 29 Nov 2017
The chief executive of KCOM says the “future is bright” for the firm in this region as it revealed its annual financial results.
The figures for the first half of the year, to September 2017, show a one per cent increase in revenue in Hull and East Yorkshire, although group revenue reduced by eight per cent.
The news comes as the company announced the final details of its ultrafast Lightstream broadband roll-out, which will see more than 200,000 homes with access to Lightstream by March 2019.
The roll-out will provide everyone on the KCOM network access to the broadband, which can reach domestic speeds of 250Mbps, following £85 million in investment by the firm over seven years.
Bill Halbert, the CEO, said that Lightstream is a key area of financial growth for the firm, which has seen sales revenue rise in Hull and East Yorkshire.
However, these successes have been undercut by an expected decline in KCOM’s legacy activities within the National Network Services. Group revenue is down to £151.5 million from £165.3 million for the same six months last year, with pre-tax profits seeing a similar decline from £16.1million to £14.8 million.
Mr Halbert said: “Year on year there has been a decline in revenue, and that was primarily down to the national network services work outside of Hull and East Yorkshire. That was what cost caused the eight per cent decline overall for the group.
“Looking specifically at Hull and East Yorkshire it is much more positive. We have seen a four per cent growth in residential consumers. The future in the region is definitely very bright.
“It has been such a strong performance in Hull and East Yorkshire which has shown the benefit of investment in the region with the fibre broadband roll-out coming closer to completion.
“We now have about three quarters of the network, 150,000 covered and have investment capital sorted to complete it by March 2019, covering more than 202,000 homes.
“I think it makes a strong statement about the encouraging progress we have seen. The percentage of people taking up Lightstream is very good as well, with more than 54,000 so far.”
Mr Halbert also said the firm has had to make cost-saving measures over the year, which has included the announcement that it will close one its two remaining contact centres, at Prospect House, in 2018 after a contract comes to an end.
He said: “We have had to look at areas where cutbacks needed to be made. We have the two contact centres and have had to close one after one of its two contracts comes to an end.”
Mr Halbert says there is medium term confidence, highlighted by the interim dividend.
“There is positive news for shareholders. We can fulfil our dividend commitment of a 2p dividend, which affects 40,000 shareholders in Hull.
“We are always looking forward and innovating as well, and the next couple of things for us will be looking at a TV application which I think will be of particular interest and also how we can relate devices to the Internet of Things.
“Across the region as well we have been involved in the community this year, only the other day I was down at Ron Dearing UTC where we have been a partner.”
Last week, Matt Hancock MP, Minister for Digital, met with KCOM staff to find out more about Lightstream saying he was delighted by “rapid advances in technologies” by the firm.
He said: “Full fibre is the future, and so I'm delighted that KCOM is now entering the final stage of its ambitious roll-out of full fibre broadband to homes and businesses in Hull.
“Rapid advances in technologies mean the need for ever faster broadband is only going to increase, and so it's wonderful news that the people of Hull will all be able to enjoy the gold standard, future proof connectivity that full fibre broadband offers."