Cutting Room: Overseas masters must loosen leash


Jasper Jackson says Huawei needs to allow more freedom to its UK operation if it is to achieve its aim of becoming a top-three vendor within five years

Huawei unveiled ambitious plans for building a global brand at a glitzy event in London earlier this month.

But the Chinese conglomerate still has some way to go to prove that the UK will be a springboard to becoming a top-three vendor.

Huawei’s handsets and tablets are competent enough, if not the most inspiring devices. Certainly, the competitive pricing opens the smartphone sector out to a much wider consumer base. However, the Huawei brand is unknown in the UK. And without national brand awareness all the hardware and pricing innovations in the world will be of little help.

The UK operation is led by industry veteran Mark Mitchinson (pictured), who was instrumental in building Samsung’s success in this country. But Mitchinson and his team are only as good as the autonomy granted them. And there are already signs that the UK is being held on a tight leash.

Take distribution. Huawei’s first offering, the Blaze, was to be stocked in Phones 4U by the end of September. This date was delayed to October. The Blaze finally appeared at the beginning of November. Similarly, the Vision was scheduled for September debut, but is now only expected in time for Christmas.

Of course, many manufacturers suffer from launch delays. But for a ‘newbie’ getting your first handset out on schedule is vital when your brand is relatively unknown.

Mitchinson has huge experience of managing product releases. So we would guess the delay didn’t emanate from Huawei’s Basingstoke HQ.  We hear the launch was held back by communication delays between China and Basingstoke as the software was fine-tuned.  This is entirely believable. Anyone who has dealt with a large Chinese organisation knows how the decision-making process is similar to running up a ‘down’ escalator.

We also have doubts about the alacrity of Huawei’s proposed global advertising slogan “Let’s Simply Share”, which possibly ranks alongside “Everything Everywhere” in the Hall of Fame of Meaningless Corporate Identity Slogans. When evenNokia, an organisation not known for being on the cutting edge of creativity,  can come up “The Amazing Everyday”, we’d humbly suggest Huawei sends its copywriters back to the drawing board.

But all the advertising sparkle in the world won’t help if Huawei micro-manages its UK operation and bogs down the team formulating its device strategy in the UK. If Huawei attempts to establish itself in the UK market without giving

Basingstoke a clear run, it will likely fail within 12 months. One only has to look at how LG lost its entire UK management team and market share when its Korean masters refused to let go of the reins.