Worst looks to be over for TalkTalk

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A BROADBAND firm dogged by service problems yesterday signalled that the worst was over as it more than doubled its annual profits and stemmed customer losses.

Shares in TalkTalk Telecom, which lost thousands of customers in 2011, jumped 15 per cent after boss Dido Harding said the turnaround was “significantly ahead of schedule”.

The company, which has four million customers, expects to lift its dividend for shareholders by 15 per cent over the next two financial years and unveiled pre-tax profits of £127m in the year to March 31, compared to £57m the previous year.

In addition, TalkTalk reduced customer net losses to 13,000 in the three months to March 31, compared to 43,000 in the previous quarter.

The group was last year hit with a £3m fine for shoddy service and was forced to pay out £2.5m to customers who were billed despite cancelling their packages.

TalkTalk, which lost customers as a result of disruption after it bought Tiscali’s UK business, was ordered by Ofcom to refund all consumers who were billed for cancelled services since January 1, 2010.

Early last year the group announced that it would axe around 580 jobs, mainly in administration functions, such as human resources, IT and finance.

The job losses, across London, Warrington, Irlam in south Manchester, and Preston, accounted for almost 13 per cent of TalkTalk’s UK workforce, bringing it to under 4,000. The launch of YouView, an internet-connected television service, in which TalkTalk is a joint partner, is on track to be launched later this year.