Carphone rediscovers love for HSC


 With HSC business manager Bob Sweetlove’s admission that a rebrand of the distributor by Carphone Warehouse is a possibility, Paul Withers looks at how the move would make perfect sense for both firms

HSC’s admission at its Christmas conference that a company rebrand may happen was no real surprise.

Some may say it is six years overdue, especially following its acquisition by Carphone Warehouse in 2005. But Carphone’s support towards HSC has been minimal.

HSC admits it has effectively operated as a standalone business, independent of the consumer giant, for years.

But this now looks set to change. Since Carphone first acquired HSC, its overall market strategy hasn’t altered. Carphone is a consumer electronics retail giant. HSC is purely a distributor to the B2B dealer channel.

In July, Carphone Warehouse chief commercial officer Graham Stapleton announced Carphone would be entering the B2B channel for the first time, selling through its retail and online channels. He even made the audacious claim that it would achieve the same success in B2B as it has in the consumer space.

Then, he insisted there were no plans to rebrand HSC and that the two organisations would work together, although his explanations of how this would be achieved were unclear and confusing.

Carphone Warehouse group business director Paul Layte (pictured) reiterated the B2B strategy just a few months later. Behind the scenes measures to integrate the two organisations more closely have progressed.

In fact, Layte’s attitude towards the prospect of a rebrand has changed dramatically. And it makes perfect sense. Carphone is synonymous with mobile retailing in the UK and a move into B2B always made sense.

But it is also attempting to set itself up as business brand, and claims to be winning business accounts.

Its ‘open for business’ marketing has become prevalent in recent months, particularly with day-time commercials on radio stations such as TalkSport, a station with more than 3.2 million weekly listeners, many of whom tune in at work.

Layte’s comments about HSC and Carphone being able to offer the same deals and services is key and they benefit the dealer channel.

Carphone claims to sell the largest range of handsets, tablets and network choices in a one-stop experience. It also offers a ‘network price promise’  on all tariffs as well as repair and exchange services.

If HSC’s base of 700 or so dealers can become part of this powerful proposition it would give the firm a portfolio no other distributor could match.