Specialist distributor Shebang is to record turnover of £100 million this year, more than treble its 2008 figure of £30 million.
The jump represents unmatched growth in distribution, a sector under extreme pressure, and sees Shebang make significant ground on the UK elite.
20:20 Mobile claims a UK turnover of £350 million and Data Select’s last filed accounts show £117 million (although it claims to be “approaching £200 million” now).
Shebang has secured a new online fulfilment contract with WH Smith to cover Orange prepay, contract and accessories. Orange has struck a network exclusive with WH Smith for contract sales from its website; Shebang is the engine behind it.
It has also secured new Orange business with mail-order cosmetics company Avon, which is to run a Q4 Orange prepay promotion with 150,000 field agents.
Increasingly niche operator Shebang is taking business off bigger competitors, with expanding fulfilment deals with Amazon and Tesco and a recent invitation to tender for Nokia.
Shebang ranked number one for Orange prepay sales in July, ahead of regular incumbent 20:20.
Managing director Iain Humphrey (pictured) is to move the distributor to a new warehouse facility on the same retail park in Daventry next month, with 32,000 square-foot of floor space, more than five times the size of its present facility.
At the same time, Humphrey’s Go Mobile retail business is leading Orange’s new franchise programme, with its Bridlington shop the first in the Orange scheme and 10 slated for the end of the year.
Humphrey is to re-open four stores by October, to take its store count back to 46. Go Mobile had shut 17 shops following the failure of its estate transfer to dealership JAG in August last year, but the chain estate has now reasserted profitability.
Humphrey said early payouts from the new Orange revenue share helped boost the profitability also.
Humphrey has brought back Nik Naik as managing director of Go Mobile.
He has also brought in dealer Jamie Booth as head of training and promoted Jo Whyman to national retail manager. He has recruited Tesco contract category manager Julian Burton as Shebang sales director, with former T-Mobile dealer manager Glyn Horsfield moved to be director of operations at the distributor.
Humphrey said: “The relationship with Orange is immense. I have never come across a network team like the one [Orange vice president of sales] ‘JP’ [Jean Pascal] Van Overbeke has built with [retail director] Sian Doyle and [third-party sales director] Duncan Hay.
“I have always maintained independent dealers cannot be matched for service to their local communities, but I have been hugely impressed with the Orange retail operation through trial of this scheme, and we have come out of it with real learnings.”
Go Mobile’s Orange franchise stores will run of Shebang’s Sellfone 3G EPOS system, with preferential marketing support, stock allocations and promotions from Orange.
Shebang has integrated a new identity-checking tool with its Sellfone 3G system in conjunction with online credit reporting agent Equifax. The new facility does away with the need to take physical identity proofs from customers signing to Orange contracts.
Humphrey said: “This serves to eradicate physical proof-taking. We are determined that by next year all Go Mobile outlets and all Sellfone 3G users will not be required to go through the time-consuming and faulty process of taking identity proofs from customers when connecting any network.”
Shebang’s Sellfone system is installed in around 400 UK dealerships, including JAG and Get Connected the biggest independent chains.