RP Europe takes number two spot

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Handset trader-distributor RP Europe has overtaken Buckinghamshire rival Data Select as number two distributor in the UK market, with revenue growth of 114 per cent in 2008/9.

It posted revenue of £163 million for the period, up from £76 million in 2007/8. By comparison, Data Select grew revenue by 37 per cent in 2008/9 to £161 million. Market leader 20:20 Mobile recorded revenue of £389 million in 2009, up 17 per cent on its 2008 figure.

RP Europe achieved the feat without a single manufacturer distribution contract to its name, a fraction of the overheads of its rivals, and fewer devices handled.

The company has 21 full-time staff, compared with 20:20 Mobile with around 600 and Data Select with 160 in the UK. Its warehouse facility is 8,000 square feet, compared with 20:20 Mobile’s Stoke facility of 100,000 square feet.

The only other UK distribution company to record comparable three-figure growth in 2009 was Shebang, which is expected to show in its latest accounts turnover improved by 109 per cent to around £65 million to December 31.

Meanwhile, Elite Mobile said its 2008 figure of £63 million increased to £84 million in 2009, representing growth of 33 per cent in the period. Its published accounts for 2009 are still unavailable. Managing director Ajay Gokani said Elite Mobile is targeting turnover of at least £105 million in 2010.

 

COMPANY

TURNOVER

20:20 Mobile

£389m (+17%)

RP Europe

£163m (+114%)

Data Select

£161m (+38%)

Elite Mobile

£84m (+33%)

Shebang

£65m (+109%)

 

RP Europe has focused traditionally on the import/export market, but it is returning its focus to the UK to supply leading retailers and rival distribution companies.

RP Europe managing director Richard Crawley said: “This year we are going for £200 million. We will utilise the skills we have learned in grey trading, and all the opportunities that has opened up. We don’t want a manufacturer contract; we have absolute consistency of supply already. We have the right products at the right time and at the right price.

“For me, it is almost like, watch out UK, because we are ready to go further. I see huge opportunities in the UK. I see the big boys potentially stumbling with their incumbent cost bases, which are way too high. It takes them quite a lot of time to change direction. We can change overnight.”

Crawley suggested rival firms might be hobbled by local manufacturer contracts in the UK, and by Nokia in particular. He suggested pricing instability, diminishing demand and legacy volume targets can cost distributors profitability.

Crawley told Mobile News: “Nokia has become very complacent as a brand, like it expects people to come back. Its phones are boring. They’re not very exciting. Look at the competition now. BlackBerry has come to market and spent money on its brand and got it into the right channels.

“Nokia’s share is crashing. It has to be. These BlackBerry, Apple, and HTC handsets are taking share. What Nokia phone compares to any in their portfolios? Its killer products are the N97 and N97 Mini. Have you actually used one? Nokia is playing catch-up in technology terms”.

See full interview in Mobile News issue 459 (March 15, 2010).

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