Telstra to slash 648 jobs from its Sensis business

For the six months to 31 December, 2012, Yellow Pages revenue dropped 20.6 per cent to $197 million

Telstra has confirmed it will cut nearly 650 jobs from its Sensis business around Australia.

Around 648 jobs are expected to be axed from Sensis’ 3500 staff, including 391 back-of-house and customer care roles axed due to outsourcing.

The Australian first reported the job cuts last week.

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Telstra said the restructure aims to reduce “duplication of senior and middle management roles”.

Revenue at Sensis, which includes the Yellow Pages, the White Pages and Whereis, has continued to fall, with Telstra revealing in its half-year results that Sensis suffered a 12.5 per cent drop in revenue, with most print revenue declines to occur in second half results.

For the six months to 31 December, 2012, Yellow Pages revenue dropped 20.6 per cent to $197 million.

The job cuts come amid Sensis's digital strategy to drive long-term profitable growth by transitioning it from a print-based business model to digital as demand for online services grows.

However, it has been a slow decline in revenue for Sensis for several years, with David Thodey, CEO at Telstra, stating in November 2011 that monetising a digital offering was proving to be challenging.

Unions and staff are being consulted about the restructure proposals, according to managing director John Allan. “Until now we have been operating with an out-dated print-based model – this is no longer sustainable for us ... our future is online and mobile where the vast majority of search and directory business takes place,” Allan said in a statement.

He said more than 60 per cent of customers now advertise online or in mobile apps.

“Not one of these decisions has been taken lightly and we are working with our staff and the unions to provide further detail of our proposed digital transition to ensure the best support for those affected by the resulting changes,” Allan said.

Telstra’s CEO, David Thodey, recently told analysts at its half yearly results that moving from a print to digital business is fundamentally different and there was still a lot of work to do.

“Now there will be continue declines, we’ve always said that, but we still do think that from what we can see at the moment, within 18 months [to] a couple of years ... we can see the potential to stabilise the business,” he said.

As part of Sensis’ restructure, a proposed digital customer management centre will be established and create 50 new jobs.

Sensis recently entered into a deal to acquire True Local from News Limited for an undisclosed sum.

Optus has also announced company restructures which will reportedly result in job cuts, following redundancies totalling nearly 1000 in the 12 months to 31 December, 2012.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

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