James: RP Europe success highlights troubles of rest


Latest filings with Companies House show niche distribution companies are posting extraordinary growth. RP Europe and Shebang have both recorded three-digit jumps in turnover. 20:20 Mobile and Data Select have got nowhere near.

It is extraordinary RP Europe has overtaken Data Select, which has a very decent reputation in the market. Sure, you can argue about the value RP Europe bring to the sector in terms of dealer support, marketing and point-of-sale materials, easy online portal purchases, feel-good incentives schemes.

But it is not promoting handset brands and struggling forlornly to win manufacturer approval in the way those companies are. If anything, its success serving mainline distribution companies, alongside major online retailers, tells how difficult incumbent manufacturers are finding the market. After all, if it can make that money, on fewer sales with fewer staff, then there is most clearly UK demand for its work.

And Crawley, the best interviewee in the distribution market, is dead right about Nokia. Read between the lines and you can make a case for Brightpoint, which lost its Nokia contract last year. So what? It has got more popular twin masters in the business market in HTC and BlackBerry.

Nokia’s demands of it were unrealistic. Brightpoint is the straightest distributor in business, and it knows what the B2B market is worth. If it failed Nokia’s targets, then it did so because demand was not there.

And Brightpoint, though a fraction of the size in UK revenue terms, is another niche player 20:20 Mobile and Data Select must watch for this year.