Avenir boss in defiant mood


Andy Tow’s time in distribution has so far been fraught, apparently cursed by powers beyond his control.

Formerly with Vodafone and Adam Phones, Tow (pictured) took charge of Unique Distribution in 2007, just as allegations of VAT fraud unravelled around its parent company IGB.

A spell at Data Select, in charge of its belated push into corporate solutions, was cut short when the managing director’s position at Avenir Telecom became vacant in November last year, as former incumbent Tanny Price quit for Vodafone.

Tow knew Price from dealings with Avenir at both Adam Phones and Data Select, and it is thought Tow was recommended for the role to Avenir head office in France.

On the face of it, Tow was taking charge of an airtime distributor in rude health. Avenir had a full complement of five network contracts when he joined, and a new IT reseller market was opening up to it. But T-Mobile and Vodafone appeared to turn on Avenir just as he settled to his task.

For some time, Avenir had sidelined T-Mobile in its push for B2B sales, and T-Mobile lost patience with it at Christmas – although Tow looked to preempt the strike out by declaring Avenir happy to consolidate around business sales.

Vodafone’s termination of Avenir last month was unexpected, and appeared more treacherous given the role handed  to longtime Avenir boss Price at Vodafone.

Mobile News visited Tow at Avenir’s Borehamwood headquarters as the ink dried on the T-Mobile divorce and just days before the Vodafone soap opera aired. Vodafone was at Borehamwood too, having just signed off £50,000 of training modules with the distributor.

A deal with Vodafone for fixed line connections was close too. Tow was in chipper mood.

So the drama that saw Vodafone install Price as head of distribution, recast Yes Telecom as its prime connections house in the channel and unceremoniously dump Avenir was ostensibly a shock to him.

Now, a month later, Tow won’t talk about Vodafone. His immediate concern, clearly, is to protect as much of Avenir’s Vodafone base from raids by Yes Telecom as possible, and to either establish a new supply contract with a Vodafone wholesaler or else a large-scale churn project. He won’t say.

He is just keen to accentuate the positives, most especially the strength of Avenir’s relations with airtime suppliers O2, Orange and lately 3, as well as its burgeoning IT programme.

Full article in Mobile News issue 434 (March 9, 2009).

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