Joint Chief Executive Officers' report


Mark Levy Joint CEO

Brett Levy Joint CEO

Our strategy going forward will be augmented by capturing our full-service offerings, embodying cost efficiencies, driving innovation and digitalisation throughout our operations and value chain, thereby ensuring greater resilience and sustainability.

Although the year was most challenging for Blue Label Telecoms, we remained resilient, in terms of maintaining and escalating our footprint in the market environment in which we operate.

We are aware of the importance of the role that we play in the daily lives of ordinary people, and continue to focus on ensuring that our products and services remain accessible, more affordable and reliable.

While we continue to grow our distribution network, by building and improving the competence of our offerings through digitalisation and technological innovation, and making sure that execution remains a top priority throughout Blue Label, we are always conscious of simplifying our business operations in order to maintain our competitive edge. This, we believe, will result in the unlocking of compelling long-term growth potential.

This report will therefore focus on the execution of our strategy, our efforts to build the most capable team, the maximisation of data and optimisation of digital innovation, as well as to outline our approach to sustainability as we transform the business from a distribution and value-added services company that runs technology to that of a digital business that orchestrates distribution and X-tech ecosystems.

Aware of the fact that the external operating environment remains challenging for us and our clients, this report will also expand on how these socio-economic changes impacted our operations and what we have done to limit the impact and mitigate the risks.

Continued Resilient Performance

Our robust operating performance is again amplified in another solid set of financial results in spite of difficult macroeconomic conditions and market volatility. This is evident in the 6% growth in Blue Label's gross revenue from R72.3 billion to R76.8 billion and the increase in core headline earnings, excluding extraneous contributions by 9% to R925 million.


Our RITE-strategy, namely reach, innovation, trust and efficiency, despite changes in the operating environment, enabled us to adapt efficiently.

Our performance, as a result of this strategy and its impact on our financial results, endorses our leadership role and competitive edge and solidified the importance of innovation and digitalisation throughout our organisation.

Our strategy going forward will be augmented by capturing our full-service offerings, embodying cost efficiencies, driving innovation and digitalisation throughout our operations and value chain, thereby ensuring greater resilience and sustainability.

This strategy will be translated into clear and measurable outcomes that would be linked to the responsible allocation of our different capitals, thereby ensuring that we make a meaningful impact by committing to growing and protecting our core and in turn facilitating new growth opportunities.

In retaining a strong focus on creating and preserving value for all stakeholders over the short, medium and long term, our strategy must also give greater impetus to the availability, quality and affordability of the six capitals (natural, human, financial, social and relationships and intellectual) and the impact of our varied activities on them.

Building a capable team

Building a high-performance team that is results-orientated and constantly pursuing excellence demands that we build a capable team that would respond to the changing needs of our customers and business partners in the most efficient and effective way.

During the past year we have developed a strong foundation for employee engagement and have enhanced our own internal application that enables them to remain engaged anywhere, enhancing motivation levels while simultaneously improving performance.

Furthermore, we have designed a more suitable leadership development programme that allows us to develop emerging talent as well as middle and senior management leaders, ensuring that succession planning is considered for all occupational levels within Blue Label.

This required a fundamental shift from a reactive role to a proactive one as we focused on long-term workforce planning, talent management, and employee development, in conjunction with our leaders, by providing insights and guidance to support their strategic decisions.

Our strategy to build capability and capacity rests on four distinct levers: identifying our workforce gaps and determining future workforce needs and skills, attracting and retaining most capable talent, connecting people and promoting collaboration, and supporting innovation and adaptation.

Maximisation of Data and Optimisation of Digital Innovation

During the year, we continued to place emphasis on the optimisation of data and digital innovation, leveraging our experience in innovation and strategy and pulling together people, processes and technology in order to aggregate data from across Blue Label to enable value-driven use cases. Some of these use cases derive value for internal Blue Label companies directly, and at other times we identify those that can be spun out as digital start-ups. All of these efforts are driven through BluNova.

While many businesses aggregate data, we specifically look at the value of alternative data and how it can be utilised to provide services to and enrich the lives of citizens of the cash economy who have traditionally been marginalised by the financial sector as thin-file clients. This aggregated alternative data drives a number of machine learning algorithms that are currently in deployment.

In the year under review, the BluAdvance business was incubated by launching South Africa's first electricity advance platform. In the year ahead, various other product and voucher advances will be added to the offering.

Historically the benefits of these alternative data algorithms have been made available on a one-to-one basis to sister companies within the Blue Label Group (internal clients). By working with clients and partners, opportunities for data-driven digital business models have been identified, incubated and are now scaling up. As a result thereof, external opportunities have arisen which have necessitated the development of the AltBureau platform.

AltBureau is a data bureau based on API marketplace technology and serves as a platform to provide services to both external and internal clients.

The objective is to digitally interact with consumers at scale, in a time-efficient and cost-efficient manner.

Cell C Post-recapitalisation

The recapitalisation was successfully concluded in September 2022.

Cell C remains focused on managing liquidity constraints and the complexities of the recapitalisation transaction.

Its network migration process, in line with the new capex-light operating model of shifting from a build and own strategy with high capital expenditure to being a buyer and aggregator of network capacity, was concluded in June 2023. This was brought forward from the original date of November 2023.

This is a significant milestone for Cell C and its customers who will now effectively have increased network access close to three-fold in less than three years, which essentially grants access to circa 14 000 sites on MTN for our Prepaid Customers in addition to Vodacom's network, which our Postpaid Customers are currently roaming on Vodacom, essentially granting Cell C customers access to the best and most reliable networks. Cell C's strategic move towards network sharing has not only eliminated network deficits but also enabled efficient use of infrastructure, reduced costs, and promoted healthy competition in the telecom sector. By owning the customer experience and shifting focus towards innovation, Cell C is better positioned to evolve into a truly customer-centric organisation and continue to play a crucial role in shaping a seamless digital future for all.

Aligned with Cell C's strategy to expand its Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) business, an important partnership with Capitec Bank was established, when the bank launched its MVNO, namely Capitec Connect.

Cell C's continued focus will be on the key commercial initiatives, including offers to limit the impact of load shedding on customers, the introduction of competitive acquisition offers in support of localised offers and customer retention initiatives. The business is focused on improving its distribution reach and enhancing its digital capability in order to improve customer experience and loyalty.


Blue Label fully recognises that sustainability is not only a business approach to creating long-term value, but also about how we operate in the ecological, social and economic environments.

Noting the importance of our products and the reliance that millions of South Africans place on them to ensure that they stay in touch with loved ones, get to work and church, can cook for their families and attend the game of their favourite team, we view sustainability to facilitate our continued ability to allow such connectivity to be uninterrupted.

We therefore continue to make meaningful investments in our brands and place great emphasis on values such as trust and reliability as part of our culture in order to ensure that we operate with the social licence we are afforded by those who entrust us with it.

Our reliance on innovation and digitalisation is also an element of this equation and both should be seen as important cornerstones in our attempts to build a corporate citizen that is both responsive and responsible.

Our efforts to continue building an ethical business, by promoting business ethics internally and expecting the same levels of honesty and integrity from those we work with enables this.

Outlook and Future Prospects

Our competitive edge has always been our ability to provide essential products and services to the mass market in the most accessible and affordable way. And while the conditions within which this is done have changed and shifted over the years, we are now more than convinced that we have found the right formula to continue achieving this in even the most difficult economic conditions.

We will continue to invest considerable resources in building our distribution network and ensuring that our products and services are the most innovative and cost effective and that our consumers derive the best value for their money.

Blue Label's robust balance sheet provides us with strategic flexibility that in turn offers us the opportunity to meet the different needs of our expanding customer base. This allows us to continue investing in our distribution network, in innovation and in improving the available capacity of our team, as all these interventions will remarkably strengthen our market position.

In support of the above, we will foster stronger relationships with all our business partners and merchants, our suppliers and our intermediaries in order to ensure that our supply chain experiences limited interruptions, as the strength of these relationships is an extension of our reliability.

We wish to extend our gratitude to every valued member of our team for their hard work, diligence and commitment. We also thank the Board of Directors for their guidance and leadership and commend our businesses that contributed to our overall positive performance.

Mark Levy

Joint Chief Executive Officer

Brett Levy

Joint Chief Executive Officer

29 September 2023