Redeem able to dream big

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Recycling mobile phones has suddenly become a multi-million pound industry in recent years. It chimes perfectly with the market dynamics.

The mobile mountain of discarded kit has grown rapidly over more than a decade, and regurgitating it has opened up useful new channels and revenue streams to the whole industry.

At the same time, recycling itself is a zeitgeist phenomenon, a happy response to a world of waste and excess, and a climate under threat. The process ticks boxes in corporate responsibility brochures.

Plus, the economic recession has seen consumers and businesses check their spending, and look to top-up their coffers. Recycling old mobile phones can, in a small way, satisfy that urge also.

In the UK, major mobile recyclers include Mazuma Mobile, Envirofone, FoneBank, Mobile Phone Exchange and Regenersis. Many of them have stretched their brands to television advertising now, such is their claim on the public consciousness.

Redeem, based in Scotland, does not count itself among the UK frontrunners. And yet it started a decade ago and, unlike most of the others, has global scale.

But most of its recycling, which runs to 70,000 handsets per month in the UK, is done under its partners’ brands. It employs 90 UK staff, including 40 telesales operatives in a Falkirk call-centre.

It is in talks with two UK network retailers to handle their recycling and strategies. Should those contracts go through, it would expect to double its annual turnover to £30 million and profits to £2 million, as it intends by the end of 2010.

Its ambition builds on growth of 200 per cent in three years, and rapid gains in the economic climate. Redeem chief executive and co-founder Jamie Rae (pictured) jets between its operations in Scotland, London, Dublin, Istanbul, Rome and, significantly, Hong Kong, its newest recycling centre and the destination market for all its recycled devices.

Full article in Mobile News issue 446 (August 24, 2009).

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