Exclusive: Bullitt wants two new brand partners in 2016

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CEO Peter Stephens said the manufacturer will look to expand product portfolio into wearables and IoT

Peter Stephens claims Bullitt Group is aiming to add at least two new brand partners this year after his appointment as CEO at the company at the end of last year.

The former Virgin Group head of telecoms and media investments took the reins at the Reading-based smartphone manufacturer on January 1, replacing co-founders Colin Batt, Richard Wharton and Dave Floyd who will continue as directors on the board overseeing the companies overall strategy.

Stephens said Bullitt, who makes smartphones under the JCB, CAT and Kodak brands, plus accessories under the Ministry of Sound and Ted Baker brands, is looking to move into adjacent markets, such as the connected home and wearables, and will look to add two new brands this year.

“As the company grows, so does our capability to service more brands,” he explained. “But they have to be the right partners at the right pace of development. I’m excited by what this company can do, and there is certainly an opportunity for us to develop additional brand relationships that don’t clash with our existing partners.

“We want strong relationships so don’t want to create confusion between the brands we work with, and will continue to use a measured approach. As we move into different avenues, it may make sense for us to seek additional brand partners.

“We’re developing a product road map and this will include further markets, and that will determine how many brands we can efficiently work with. We will be selective, and only expect to add a couple in the next year or so, but will look at others in the future.”

Stephens said in addition to adding new brands, he would hold a review into the company as part of a plan to grow its sales and marketing staff footprint, although he could not reveal how many staff would be added until after the review has taken place. Currently, Bullitt employs 120 staff across four offices (Reading, New York, Shenzhen and Taiping).
One role which will be filled is the newly-created position of chief operating officer. Stephens said he expects to appoint a new COO some point in January.

“Because of our growth over the last few years, we will add additional staff across the Group,” he added. “We are also expanding geographically as we target a further rollout. We have a great team here already and are very entrepreneurial, but we are trying to fill holes across the sales and marketing side.

“One role I’m keen to fill is adding a new COO as soon as we can. This business is no longer a startup – it is already off the ground and is transitioning into its adolescent years.”

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