The departure from Samsung of vice president for UK and Ireland Mark Mitchinson has left a void at the manufacturer say top industry pundits.
Mitchinson, who was last month voted ‘Industry Personality of the Year’ at the Mobile News Awards on March 18, announced his exit from the helm at the Korean handset manufacturer on April 14 for “educational and personal” reasons, after 11 years.
He was due to head up all Samsung IT remits, including PC, laptop and netbook ranges. His role expanded at the end of last year when he took charge of the MP3/MP4 units.
His fast exit has shocked Samsung’s partners.
One source said: “We are very saddened Mark has left the business. He has done a very good job for Samsung in building up the brand to be a strong contender in the market. The timing is unusual considering he would have been given a great promotion.”
A top distribution executive said: “His exit leaves a void at Samsung. It will be difficult to replace him.
“I was surprised he stayed at Samsung for so long. Mark has developed some very strong relationships for Samsung and his personality has helped build those contacts. But, after such a long time in the company, it’s no shock he has decided to leave. There is no doubt it was him who made the brand what it is in the UK.”
The head of one leading distributor said: “I think he realised he was working longer hours than ever before and that he just had enough. The last time I spoke to him he seemed to be on a ‘high’ about finally making the decision to leave. He seemed relieved”.
Samsung’s business partners said the company will struggle to find a strong replacement.
Fonehouse managing director Clive Bayley said: “Mark was a great leader for Samsung. He knew how to keep customers on side and develop a good bond between manufacturer and retailer.
‘He developed a great product mix and was very enthusiastic for the independent retailer. He always gave us a chance to compete with the larger competitors. He always had time for his customers and certainly helped Samsung gain its current position. He will certainly be a hard act to follow.”
Mitchinson built up a strong alliance with the indirect channel and developed several dealer incentives.
Walk & Talk Mobile proprietor Dipak Vora said: “Mark is very approachable and makes time for everyone, whether they’re from a big corporation or a one-man band. He helped encourage uptake within the channel. It will be interesting to see how that is maintained after he has left.”
Jonathan Kini, director of mobile at Virgin Media said: “Mark has been a legend in the mobile industry for as long as I can remember and an absolute pleasure to work with. He’s a fantastic businessman yet rooted in the real world. We look forward to working with Mark again in the future.”
A Novo chief operating officer Stephen Maxwell added: “I have known Mark since 1993 when he was at Nokia and I was at Orange. Mark has always been highly professional and a pleasure to work with.
“He has done a great job at Samsung. He is a very talented leader and a major personality in the telecommunications market place.”
Mitchinson was responsible for the £50m Chelsea Football Club shirt sponsorship in 2005. He also drove the distribution and branding of Samsung’s best-selling handsets such as Tocco and Genio. Under his leadership, Samsung toppled Nokia from its top slot last year.