LG puts distribution partner channel under review


Sources say manufacturer is looking to rationalise partners to recoup smartphone share

LG’s distribution channel has been placed under review as the manufacturer looks to recoup its smartphone share.

LG currently has distribution agreements with BrightPoint, Data Select, Micro-P, Brightstar and 20:20 Mobile.

But its agreements with BrightPoint and Data Select are said to be largely inactive at present.

The review was launched by LG’s recently-appointed head of mobile for the UK and Ireland Andrew Coughlin (pictured), who replaced Warren Lewis in July.

Coughlin, who spent five years at Samsung Telecommunications Europe in senior global account roles, said he will need time to understand mobile distribution in the UK before making any decisions.

Industry sources claim LG is looking to rationalise its distribution partners – to allow for greater focus on its products. Coughlin, however, refused to be drawn on potential cuts.

He said: “All our distribution partners are under review. No decisions have been made yet. I’m currently in discussions with all of them to see how we can take that forward.

“We have a job to do to ensure LG smartphones are at the forefront of salespeople’s minds. We have to prove our capability that when they sell our products, it’s not going to come back the following day or  week.

“I want execution in the channel to be the major focus. The numbers will come organically. If we can get that right, then we’re in good shape.”

Missed opportunities
Coughlin admitted LG has suffered as a result of “missed opportunities” in the smartphone market over the past couple of years and has not had a strong enough portfolio. He also admitted that retail and network partners have had to push other manufacturers’ products ahead of its own.

This has resulted in LG’s smartphone market share currently hovering around the one per cent mark in
the UK.

Its poor UK performance is reflective globally, with LG’s market share sliding from 5.7 per cent in Q2 2011 to just 3.4 per cent today, according to analyst firm Gartner. Coughlin insisted LG is now a “very different” company and will provide the support its channel partners require to help boost sales.

He said LG’s Android-powered L Series and Optimus 4X HD handsets are beginning to repair the damage, and are selling “incredibly well.”

He also confirmed LG UK is to invested heavily in recruitment, bringing in four new sales and marketing staff by the end of the year – taking total headcount to 24 in the process.

Coughlin added: “You’re going to see a very different LG.

“We are rebuilding our portfolio and will make sure the L Series is well supported with our partners and that the execution at channel level is right.

“The portfolio we have coming is compelling and offers much more value than some of our competitors. We won’t try and bring out £500 smartphones and attempt to lead at the top end.

“We have a bit of catching up to do as we didn’t see the opportunity that smartphones presented a couple of years ago. As such, our market share is not where it should be.

“The L Series has done incredibly well in improving our capability to bring a good smartphone series to market.

“The Q3 and Q4 numbers will show we’re heading in the right direction.”