“We’ve got three out of four tier-one manufacturer contracts and more than 350 active customers. We’re already trading with the largest MVNOs direct, and have set up business in nine European countries since April 2,” said a Brightstar spokesperson.
UK sales director Colin Sarratt (pictured), thought last week to have quit the business after an unscheduled two-week sabbatical, remains at Brightstar. But four major distributors claimed last week to have received “several” CVs from current Brightstar staffers, and contracters hired to bring in new business are not expected to have their contracts renewed.
One distributor said: “Brightstar’s model is not working and people have decided to leave. There’s nothing for them to do.”
A senior manufacturer source said: “Brightstar has paid top dollar to get people in before even building the business. Some customers it is talking to are reluctant to move from 20:20 out of loyalty. There is very little business to go around. It needs customer contracts before pressuring manufacturers.”
Brightstar is trading with Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson direct, although Samsung is yet to give it a fully fledged UK contract. Samsung boss Mark Mitchinson said: “We have given Brightstar no firm commitment, but it is buying some of our products.”
It is also stocking a full compliment of Nokia devices, although sourcing them indirect in the UK. Nokia UK managing director Simon Ainslie said: “We have nothing for Brightstar in the short term. We have not placed them on a trial. We may look at them again next year.”
But a source close to Brightstar said: “Don’t underestimate Brightstar. It has bought 46 million handsets this year, so it clearly has direct deals with all of them. [European partner] Tech Data has a turnover of £1 billion. It has a deal with Dixons. [UK partner] Computer 2000, the biggest IT distributor in the UK, has a deal with Tesco. BT gets its IT kit from Computer 2000. It works with Samsung and Sony already.”