Iliad Group CEO Thomas Reynaud (pictured) claimed the challenger operator entered a new dimension in 2020, as it returned to growth in France and bought Polish operator Play, elevating it to Europe’s sixth-largest group by mobile subscribers.

In the company’s annual results statement, Reynaud said it had “held firm” during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) crisis and, with the completion of its Play transaction, become “a fully-fledged European-scale telecoms group”.

As part of its growth strategy, the company plans to launch a fixed offering in Italy by the middle of this year, in addition to scaling its mobile network in the country.

Iliad, which shook the French and Italian markets on its entry, noted the addition of Play made it the sixth-largest operator group on the continent with a total of 42.7 million subscribers and almost 15,000 employees.

In its home market of France, it noted increased user numbers for its fibre service and higher-tier mobile plans with unlimited 4G or 5G data. In Italy, it hailed a 58 per cent increase in revenue.

Consolidated revenue increased 10 per cent year-on-year to €5.9 billion, attributed partly to a rapid increase in earnings from Italy and the addition of €200 million from Poland in Q4.

Revenue from France was up 2 per cent, as higher takings from mobile and fixed services offset a 15 per cent decline in cash from device sales, including TV boxes associated with its fixed operation.

Net profit dropped almost 76 per cent to €420 million, a statistic Iliad explained as being due to “very significant non-recurring items” in 2019.