Cutting Room: Pierce’s strategy of “less for more”

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Paul Withers looks at Samsung boss Conor Pierce’s decision to reshape its relationships with distributors

Conor Pierce has wasted no time reshaping Samsung in the UK, and has to be backed due to his record in turning manufacturers around.

Pierce,who was only appointed to the hot seat three months ago, has already overseen a review of its accessories distributors,which has seen numbers reduced from six to four and opened a review of the handset distributors it works with.

Samsung has been in desperate need of a fresh approach. Figures from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech for the three months ending February 28 showed Apple had a 38.6 per cent share – up from 29.9 per cent a year ago, while Samsung’s share had slipped from 32.1 per cent to 25.3 per cent.

Pierce told me pre-orders for the newly-released Galaxy S6 and S6 edge smartphones were “significantly higher” than anything Samsung has seen in the UK. He is confident Samsung can regain smartphone leadership in the UK. Highly ambitious you might think, but cast your mind back four years.

Pierce took over the UK and Ireland job at Nokia in April 2011 when the manufacturer was in disarray. Two months earlier, it had scrapped its ageing Symbian OS to strike a deal with Microsoft to use Windows Phone on its devices.

Just five months later, 20:20 Mobile and Data Select were dropped as handset distributors and replaced by Micro-P and Ingram Micro. It appeared to be a masterstroke. Windows Phone displaced BlackBerry as the UK’s third largest OS by share – growing 240 per cent year- on-year to 6.2 per cent. Nokia’s sales share for the three months ending January 31, 2014 had almost doubled annually to 10.9 per cent.

Samsung’s new distribution strategy of ‘less is more’ to focus on deeper relationships with partners, led by someone with a proven track record of breathing new life into manufacturers, would appear to be one of the best decisions it has made in a while.

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