Peter Jones reaffirms Data Select commitment


Peter Jones makes clear his commitment to Data Select after suggestions he has distanced himself from the business

Phones International Group chairman Peter Jones CBE sought to make clear his commitment to handset distributor Data Select last week, following divestment of its profitable SIM distribution business DSNS with the £38 million reverse takeover by online retailer Expansys.

Market watchers have suggested Jones has moved away from Data Select, which recorded profit of £5.2 million on turnover of £161.6 million in 2009/10, to focus on his new growth businesses in the sector, including M2M provider Wireless Logic and Expansys. Data Select insiders and partners have noted Jones’ absence from Data Select channel events for more than a year, having been a figurehead for the business ever since he quit John Caudwell’s 20:20 Logistics to set up in 1998.

The industry has long held the view Jones is ready to sell Data Select for a decent sum.

But Jones, speaking with Mobile News at a launch event for Data Select’s new range of JCB handsets, made clear Data Select remains a core interest, and that he considers his role now as investment, rather than operations.

Jones said: “The way I run my life and the way I have for five years is to be an investor in companies. I have invested in 28 companies. People see me invest on [BBC series] Dragons’ Den, but my business interests go much further, whether it’s Data Select, Expansys or Wireless Logic.”

Jones continued: “I’m an investor now rather than operator in terms of the running of the business and the empire. I am more like a private equity player. But every month I get the same board reviews and we go through with a fine tooth comb and look at strategies. That is my part, and I have always been hugely actively involved in the business.”

When asked where Data Select was specifically on his list of priorities, Jones said: “I have a top seven list; we have got Expansys and I have a last position in it, the same with Wireless Logic and the same with Data Select. These businesses generate income of about £350 million a year. I would be stupid not to be seriously involved in all of them.”