Brightstar wins from Shebang spat


Distributor Shebang was at the centre of two major supplier feuds last week after it ceased trade with Data Select and RP Europe, and handed around £3 million of business to rival firm Brightstar.

Shebang’s three-year purchasing arrangement with Data Select reached an impasse amid claims by both parties of late payments.

Shebang said it had held off closing its account with Data Select, as well as paying it for SIM-free handset purchases, until it had received assurances from Data Select managing director George McPherson it would be paid monthly commission payments due for SIM cards it had purchased from Data Select, sold into channel and awaiting connection.

It said it expects £30,000 per month in commission from Data Select for some months yet, and wanted assurances money would be paid despite the breakdown of their relationship.

Shebang said it had been angered by Data Select also for placing a £100,000 handset order direct with manufacturer Sonim, maker of Land Rover-branded devices, instead of purchasing from Shebang, which holds a UK exclusive on the products.

Data Select previously held distribution rights for Sonim’s JCB range.
Shebang managing director Iain Humphrey said: “Brightstar believes in a partnership relationship. It does not just consider us a competitor, and sees the value we can build together.”

Shebang has arranged with Brightstar Europe for supply of handsets instead; business it suggested was worth around £1.5 million per annum to Data Select.

Data Select said sales to Shebang had slowed to virtually nothing this year, and were less in 2009 than Shebang claimed.

A spokesman said: “To date this year, Data Select has not supplied any handsets to Shebang. Our continued growth and success in all channels may have led to differences with Shebang. Data Select prefers to deal direct and not sub-distribute. In terms of overall handset business, Data Select’s sales to Shebang in 2009 was substantially less than has been claimed.”

Also, Shebang responded to claims by RP Europe last week its trading account, worth around £1.5 million in 2009 as well, had been closed by RP Europe insisting it had itself put a stop to purchases two months prior.

Humphrey said: “We stopped trading with RP Europe on March 12 only because we want to work with official UK kit. We have important supplier and customer contracts we do not wish to jeopordise with grey stock.”

RP Europe managing director Richard Crawley said: “Based on its poor payment history, we refused to do any business with Shebang unless it is on a cash-upfront basis.”

Humphrey maintained Shebang had paid RP Europe up to date, and had not gone beyond its 60-day credit period. “My accounts since the start of 2009 show I have paid for purchases, on average, after 56 days, and never missed one payment.”

In a further twist, 20:20 Mobile is understood to have reduced Shebang’s credit allowance, although sources claim it is part of a seasonal review and, in Shebang’s case, because it was not full credit allowance.

Shebang will take Samsung, BlackBerry, LG, HTC and Sony Ericsson handsets from Brightstar going forward. Mobile News understands, also, Brightstar has struck a deal with a accredited party to secure supply of official UK Nokia stock for sale within its channels.