Joe Garner is to be the new CEO of Openreach, BT announced today. Garner, who will join in mid-February, will replace Liv Garfield, who is leaving to become CEO of Severn Trent.
Garner brings substantial commercial, operational and regulatory experience, having worked for many years at HSBC, Dixons and Procter & Gamble. His most recent role was at HSBC where, as head of the UK Bank, Joe helped lead HSBC successfully through the financial crisis, rebuilding profitability and strengthening the balance sheet.
In this role, Joe also drove some of the highest customer satisfaction levels in high street banking, including at the UK's No.1 bank for service, first direct, and was responsible for launching M&S Bank. Under his leadership, HSBC in the UK achieved the best long-term record on customer complaints amongst the major banks as well as industry-beating levels of employee engagement.
Garner has significant experience of working in a strictly regulated industry and of dealing with regulators, not least through his role as Chairman of the Financial Services Authority's Practitioner Panel. This experience will be invaluable given Openreach is one of the most heavily regulated businesses in the UK, providing all communications providers with equal access to BT's network and operating at arm's length from the rest of the BT Group.
Speaking today, Garner said: "I am thrilled to be joining Openreach at such a critical moment - a moment when technology is redefining how our society communicates. The massive investment that Openreach is making in the UK's high speed internet infrastructure is something of a revolution that will greatly benefit people and businesses in this country. I am grateful to my predecessor and the engineers who have already delivered so much. It is my ambition to build on this work and I intend to focus on customer service, continued innovation and maintaining fair and equal access for all."
Gavin Patterson, BT Group CEO said: "I am delighted to welcome Joe to the team. His experience of managing a large regulated business with a substantial workforce will help us as we expand our fibre optic network into rural areas. He will also ensure that Openreach continues to play a vital role in supporting businesses, consumers and communities the length and breadth of the country."
Openreach is responsible for BT's local access network in the UK. It is a highly regulated business and is upgrading its network by deploying fibre broadband. It has passed more than 17 million premises with the technology and the roll-out continues apace.
Joe is 44 years old, is married and has one young son.