It was a prophetic punt on the rise of Bluetooth back in 2002 that set French accessories firm Parrot on its road to current success. Having built its range of wireless peripherals around the technology, its next move was to break into the lucrative UK market, enlisting the help of industry veteran Chris Roberts to do it.
Parrot had set up in the UK in 2005, but needed to break through. Roberts joined as UK country director in April last year and, for Parrot’s expansionary purposes, his CV was right on the money – a stint at Dextra following a decade in manufacturing and stewardship of the family dealership.
“I’ve been in this industry since analogue car phones,” he says. “My family owned car radio stores back in the 1970s. I’ve seen all sides of this industry – retail, distribution and manufacturing.Parrot’s business model in the UK is based around my experience.”
Parrot was founded in 1994 as a specialist in voice recognition technology, producing devices for blind people. In the late 1990s, it started to develop Bluetooth chipsets. The boom in Bluetooth devices over the past five years has seen it switch horses.
Roberts reflects that Parrot’s foresight in predicting the rise of Bluetooth back in 2002 has borne fruit. “We were confident that there would be a single device to use for voice and data and that we’d have a range of wireless peripherals around that one device to release those elements,” he explains.
The company set up in the UK in 2005, expanding simultaneously with subsidiaries Germany, Italy, North America, China and Hong Kong. Spain is Parrot’s latest international division.
In the UK, it has taken 12 months for Roberts to raise Parrot’s profile within UK retail channels, bolstering its marketing, merchandising and technical support teams. “It’s taken us a while to get the distribution strategy and product range right, and we have needed to build the sales and support team,” explains Roberts.
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