Distributor 20:20 Mobile has put its recent growth down to its move beyond “shed and truck” services, to offer kit providers and customers with fuller supply and logistics management. It said it expects to sign new contracts with major consumer electronics retailers outside the mobile space shortly.
Managing director James Browning said the firm expects sizeable deals with leading electronics retail brands in the next months, as it continues its drawn-out reinvention under private equity ownership. Since its sale to Doughty Hanson in 2007, and its difficult recapitalisation and restructure, the Crewe-based distributor has sought a friendlier trading reputation and a deeper service portfolio.
UK annual turnover closed near £400 million in 2009, up from £320 million in 2008. Browning said its new ‘premier partner’ programme, which debuted in June last year with its 50 top dealers, has typified its new approach and has been central to growth.
“Three years ago, the UK business had challenges in terms of bringing together three separate companies and certain financial restructuring. That was concluded in 2008, and we had a good run in 2009 in terms of both handset and accessory sales. We over-achieved against our financial plan in 2009. And 2010 has started very well too. We budgeted for growth in 2010, we are ahead of that and we are building on the big contract wins we had in 2009,” said Browning.
Browning said the independent channel grew by seven per cent since the launch of its premier partner programme, and is out-performing early targets. Accessories sales have jumped 16 per cent since its debut also.
He said: “The independent channel makes a massive contribution. It is a very resilient part of this industry, and the source of a lot of new ideas and entrepreneurialism still. Within that, our premier partners are the real revenue and growth driver for us. We want to do an even better job for it – it’s important to us and our suppliers, and we are committed to driving business and to invest in this channel.”
20:20 Mobile is offering premier partners and key corporate accounts, via its web portal, round-the-clock stock ordering, stock tracking, account information, device compatibility checks and access to POS materials and marketing funds. The portal also offers up-to-date industry news, insight and analysis. New customers, now under NDA, in parallel sales channels will also take advantage of its roster of services.
It is also looking to ramp up supply contracts with providers outside the traditional mobile sector, as it has done in the UK already with supply of televisions and computer consoles to customers looking to bundle ‘gifts’ with airtime sales, and as it has at its Spanish unit with sale of broadband modems and set-top boxes, among other items.
Browning said: “I don’t want to be a shed and truck operation, because there are enough of those in this market already. Yes, we will do storage and distribution for clients, but we also offer high levels of service, and tracking and tracing of goods and so forth. We are very good at holding, managing, distributing, tracking and tracing high-value tech items. We have a full Oracle ERP system, which can handle multi SKU transactions. Will we start distributing cuddly toys? No. Will we start distributing other high-value electronics? Yes. Those conversations are going on.”