Exclusive: HMD signs Exertis and appoints French to “reignite” Nokia brand

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Manufacturer partners with distributor and recruits industry veterans to shake-up the industry

HMD Global has signed a distribution deal with Exertis and appointed Jon French and Sarah Edge as it looks to “reignite” the Nokia brand and “shake up” the industry.

This is a new agreement and not a renewal of the one the distributor signed with Nokia in 2011. Several of its rivals were understood to have competed for this new deal.

The contract has gone live with HMD likely to unveil its first Nokia-branded devices at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month.

Great brand awareness

Exertis mobile sales director Simon Woodman (pictured right) said: “Both companies have a great deal of mutual respect having worked together previously.

“HMD Global chose us based on our reputation in the industry, the quality of our people and the understanding of their aspirations moving forward.

“The Nokia brand name still has great brand awareness in the market that resonates with a very large demographic.

“We believe that this year will see HMD Global develop a portfolio of products that can cater for a wide and diverse market in the UK and Ireland and Exertis has the means to help them grow their business in both the retail and B2B space with our customers”

Last May, Nokia signed a 10- year licensing agreement with Finnish company HMD to create Nokia-branded smartphones and tablets.

Industry heavyweights

Meanwhile, HMD has appointed Jon French (pictured left) as vice president of Western Europe and Sarah Edge as UK and Ireland general manager.

French brings with him 20 years of handset manufacturing experience. He joins from Microsoft following a four-and-a-half year stint there, where he was vice president for the Middle East, Asia and Africa, as well as general manager of Asia Pacific.

Prior to that he had spent four-and-a-half years at HTC in a number of leadership roles, including UK and Ireland executive director and vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

He had originally joined Nokia in 1997 and then spent six years as UK general manager of Samsung from 2002.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity we have to reignite the mobile market with a brand that people know and love,” said French.

“I believe our business, with passionate people and exceptional partners, is uniquely placed to deliver the best quality mobile technology to all, starting this year and long into the future.”

Edge brings with her 15 years of industry experience. She joins from Sony, where she was an account director for almost four years, managing UK operator and global operator relationships.

Prior to that she had spent almost eight years at Orange in a number of roles, including retail senior marketing manager, category manager and head of devices business development. She was also head of marketing
at HTC for seven months.

“Our mission is to bring quality phones with an iconic brand to all consumers at a time when I genuinely believe that the UK mobile market is ready for change,” said Edge.

“Working closely with our partners, we look forward to shaking things up in the mobile industry this year.”

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