Nokia poised to axe Brightpoint

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Handset distributor Brightpoint is being investigated by Nokia for failing key criteria set out in its original accreditation, agreed in October last year.

Mobile News understands Brightpoint has missed volume targets through the second half of the year, and has been forced to sell UK stock into the grey market to make up the shortfall.

Brightpoint, led by Hugh Roper, denied last week any change to its Nokia distribution contract.

Brightpoint said: “Our contract  with Nokia remains.”

Nokia refused to comment. But sources claimed Nokia is at the point of pulling the contract as Brightpoint has failed to deliver sufficient sales of Nseries and Eseries devices, and Nokia has uncovered a series of grey market trades of its UK-stamped devices.

A decision by UK general manager Mark Loughran and retail head Sami Lehtinen is expected within the coming weeks.

Several handset vendors have grown impatient with stock intended for the UK market finding its way into mainland Europe and, commonly, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates recently.

Nokia’s accredited distribution partners have been briefed lately on the likely consequences of foreign sale of UK goods.

BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) has also been monitoring trading activity by UK sales channels, and is understood to have this month issued stark warnings to certain distributor and retail operations, including Brightpoint.

Carphone Warehouse has also come under scrutiny from Nokia lately after selling 67,000 ‘CPW’-marked Nokia 5530s for onward trade by UK traders outside of Europe.

Carphone had an August exclusive on the 5530 XpressMusic, and took 130,000 from Nokia in total.

But sales channels have reacted angrily to “unrealistic” manufacturer targets, in a climate of reduced demand and increased  power of network retail.

UK Nokia partners are expected to sell around 50,000 units per quarter, as well as meet certain criteria about handset profiles, to retain direct relations.

Such targets are unrealistic, they claim, especially for a vendor that has failed to produce market-beating handsets in 2009.

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