Vodacom and MTN mum on Knott-Craig taking over at Cell C

Alan Knott-Craig joined Cell C as CEO, effective 1 April 2012. The former Vodacom CEO has big plans for Cell C, planning to grow the mobile operator’s market share to 25% in three years.

Knott-Craig said that that the saturated South African cellular market needs a new approach to grow the business, and that he will change the ‘old rules’ to grow Cell C’s market share to 25% in three years.

Knott-Craig argued that it is just too difficult to beat South Africa’s two cellular giants at their own game. “We have to play a different game. We can’t play the same game they [Vodacom and MTN] are playing, they’ve become experts at that game,” said Knott-Craig.

The new Cell C CEO said that he plans to boost Cell C’s distribution, and change the way the distribution channel works. Knott-Craig added that he will ensure that Cell C has a top-notch network, excellent customer support and products which consumers want.

Knott-Craig is one of the most-respected mobile CEOs globally, and with his vast knowledge and established relationships in the industry, he is sure to have a big impact on the company.

Vodacom and MTN must be concerned about losing market share to Cell C, and if their reactions to questions about Knott-Craig are anything to go by, they are worried about Cell C operating under Knott-Craig.

When asked for comment on their former CEO starting at Cell C, and Knott-Craig’s plans to grow the company’s market share to 25%, Vodacom spokesperson, Richard Boormanmerely said that “it is difficult to comment on other companies’ plans and strategies to deal with the changing environment.”

Boorman even added the textbook PR response, “we’d rather focus on what we are doing than comment on others.”

MTN did not to respond to questions about losing market share to Cell C, or to Knott-Craig taking over at the Cell C.

In recent days, Knott-Craig candidly spoke about the mobile industry in South Africa and the changing telecoms environment, which will favour a small operator like Cell C.

Knott-Craig said that Vodacom and MTN have more to lose in a low-margin, high-volume environment dominated by data – especially if voice over data services start to become popular.

The freedom with which Knott-Craig discussed the industry and Cell C’s competitors – and the comparative lack of freedom from Vodacom and MTN to do the same – clearly illustrates the position which Cell C enjoys as a smaller, non-listed company.

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Vodacom and MTN mum on Knott-Craig taking over at Cell C