Digicel moves to cut off rumours


REPORTS THIS week from Honduras that Denis O’Brien was planning to halve the number of retail outlets operated there by his Digicel mobile phone company ruffled a few feathers.

O’Brien has invested $450 million (€360 million) in the Central American state since Digicel’s launch in late 2008 and is going head-to-head with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s mobile operation for market share.

Digicel Honduras is open for business, according to its head office in Jamaica.

“To be clear, Digicel is not reducing its retail footprint in Honduras,” Digicel said in reply to a query. “As a matter of fact, we are increasing it.

“With Digicel now holding the number two position in the Honduran market, we have built up great relationships with the local banks, supermarkets and restaurants who are keen to partner with us and have a Digicel presence in their outlets. As such, while we are reducing the total number of exclusive stores – which is standard practice when our business matures in a market – we are in fact increasing our retail presence from 257 to 295 points of sale. In addition, we have 60,000 recharge locations nationwide.”

Digicel has 1.6 million subscribers between Honduras and Panama, increasing its customer base by 46 per cent last year. It states market share target is 30 per cent, which would bring it in to line with its Caribbean markets.

Digicel said the Honduran business continued to grow in spite of the political turmoil of the past year, which saw President Mel Zelaya ousted by the military and the new regime being shunned internationally.

“We have made good progress in Honduras notwithstanding the challenging economic and political situation,” Digicel added, diplomatically.