Mobile-phone subscriber growth slowed for Rogers Communications Inc. in the Christmas shopping quarter, but executives of Canada’s largest cellphone company said Monday they meant that to happen.

Rogers Communications shares declined as much as four per cent after the release of the subscriber data, but “overall we’re quite happy with the numbers,” said John Gossling, vice-president of financial operations.

“We kind of engineered it to be this way.”

Gossling told an investor conference webcast from Phoenix, Ariz., that against competitors Bell Mobility and Telus “we didn’t play in the free-phone space, we didn’t do the gift with purchase – free DVD player, free hairdryer, whatever.”

Rogers said it added 216,300 wireless customers in the October-December quarter, down 18 per cent from 262,900 on an acquisition-adjusted basis in the year-ago period.

Gossling noted that the holiday-shopping quarter is always very competitive, and “we had a slightly different strategy than perhaps in the past and perhaps than the other guys,” as Rogers aimed for “higher-revenue and lower-churning customers, which is what we see on higher-value handsets.”

Rogers non-voting shares fell as much as $2.05 to $49.64 Monday morning, and as the Phoenix presentation ended were at $50.17, down $1.52 or 2.9 per cent.

The stock had hit a record high of $52.07 last Thursday, up from a 52-week low of $30.53.