02 May 2023: Virgin Media O2 has today announced two changes to its Executive Committee as the company dials up its customer-first focus, accelerates its digital transformation strategy and doubles down on key growth initiatives to drive long-term commercial momentum.
Ulrik Bengtsson, the former Chief Executive of William Hill, has joined the company as Chief Operating Officer replacing Jeff Dodds who has taken a CEO position at another company. Ulrik will be responsible for improving customer experience and implementing key consumer digital initiatives across all of Virgin Media O2’s customer areas. This includes overseeing customer service, install and field technicians, offline sales and more than 300 retail stores spread across the country.
Ulrik brings a wide range of operational and digital experience having spent almost three years as CEO of William Hill International from 2019, joining the company as Chief Digital Officer in April 2018. In 2021, Ulrik oversaw the sale of William Hill to Caesars Entertainment for £2.9bn, representing a doubling of the business’ valuation since 2019, and then led the separation of the US business and the sale of the European business to 888. As CEO, Ulrik transformed William Hill by driving investment in technology and digital capability as well as implementing product and player safety enhancements. Under his leadership, William Hill’s retail estate was modernised and refocused and the company experienced rapid expansion in the US and continental Europe, as well a market share growth in the UK. Prior to this Ulrik spent five years as CEO of Betsson Group and was the CEO of Viasat Sweden.
Jeff Dodds will stand down during the summer. He has been COO of Virgin Media O2 since the business was formed and, before that, at Virgin Media from June 2019 to May 2021. He had previously spent five years at Virgin Media, including as Chief Marketing Officer.
Jeff has accepted an opportunity to become the CEO of another organisation, which will be announced in due course.
Due to health reasons, Rob Evans, Managing Director of Fixed Network Expansion, has taken the decision to leave the business with Julie Agnew appointed to the role having covered this area on an interim basis since the start of the year. Julie will be primarily focused on delivering fibre rollout on behalf of nexfibre, a joint venture established last year by Liberty Global, Telefonica and InfraVia Capital Partners. Virgin Media O2 is the build supplier and anchor tenant of this network which aims to rollout full fibre to at least 5 million more premises by 2026.
Julie has extensive experience delivering major infrastructure projects in the UK. Most recently she held the role of CEO at Egg, which was launched in February 2022 by Liberty Global Ventures, the investment arm of Liberty Global, to offer consumers and businesses a range of de-carbonising technology solutions. Before this Julie spent 20 years at Virgin Media, latterly as the Executive Director of Construction & Delivery, extending the reach of the company’s broadband network through its Project Lightning programme.
These changes come amid systemic transformation in Virgin Media O2 that reorganises and focuses the entire company on a customer-first, digital-first and converged mentality and mission that lays the ground for future growth.
Gareth Turpin now leads a single consumer commercial division focused on fixed, mobile and convergence growth and performance. This division brings together the commercial and marketing power of Virgin Media and O2 into one place to focus on a single strategy for customers across the brands.
Kay Schwabedal now leads a division focused on digital transformation, product and value creation. This area ensures Virgin Media O2 continues to deliver high quality and resilient products rooted in customer insight.
These areas, along with the whole Virgin Media O2 leadership team, will work seamlessly to deliver smart, resilient and quality services that put individual customer experience and needs at the centre.
Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media O2, said: “As Virgin Media O2 approaches two years as a joint business I’m extremely proud of the progress that we have made, and both Jeff and Rob have played a major part in this success, both before and after the merger. As we now look ahead to the next chapter, putting customers right at the heart of our decision making, accelerating our digital transformation activity and ramping up our network build engine, it’s fantastic to have Ulrik and Julie as part of our leadership team.
“Ulrik brings extensive operational and digital knowledge to the table with a record of delivering transformational changes that create a better customer experience and service. Julie has been part of the Virgin Media and Liberty Global families for many years and knows the network and build landscape inside out.
“I’d like to thank Jeff and Rob for their tireless work and many achievements over the years and look forward to building on the momentum Virgin Media O2 has generated to transform our business for future success.”