From Russia with love

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The Fly Mobile business model appears, at first glance, to be back-to-front. It is that rare thing: a new and successful British manufacturing brand. And yet it has been, excuse the pun, a fly on the UK marketplace wall until now.

It finally entered UK mobile phone retail in January, when its SL500i handset was ranged in pink by Argos and in black as the TR1 by Orange Retail. But the handset certainly has a pedigree Fly shipped more than 1.5 million handsets to emerging markets such as Russia and India last year.

Indeed, it took seven per cent of the Russian market through its partnership with Russian handset retail giant Euroset in just 12 months. Fly handsets now make up 10 per cent of Eurosets product offering.

Its present UK market adventure is a work in progress, but it has ambitions to expand into France, Germany and the US next year.

According to Fly vice-president of UK sales and marketing Simon Gregory, Flys roundabout journey back to home soil has helped build the companys brand and product range to make it a viable contender in the competitive UK prepay market.

Since the launch here in January, we have been very well received and we started to do business almost immediately, he says. Everyone has been talking to us very seriously they see we are making a lot of sense. Weve had to accelerate the whole process because people want our products in time for Q3 and Q4. Were way beyond where we thought we would be at this stage and are looking forward to a successful Christmas quarter.

Fly, based in Londons Mayfair, plans to bring eight low-priced prepay music handsets a range of slider, candybar and clamshell phones to UK retailers by October, in time for the annual Christmas shopping frenzy. It aims to take two per cent of the UK prepay market by the end of the year.

Despite his bullishness, however, Gregory is coy about providing sales figures to date for the £59.99 SL500i. All he will say is: Orange and Argos have said to me they are very happy.

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