Brightstar looks for Europe

Tech Data Corporation, a leading distributor of IT products, and Brightstar, the world’s largest mobile distributor, are setting up a 50:50 joint venture in the UK under the name Brightstar Europe Limited.

It will distribute mobile phones and other wireless devices to customers across the board, from networks to retailers.

Tech Data is a $20bn Fortune 500 company that is well established in European as an IT distributor – in the UK it operates as Computer 2000, and initially Brightstar Europe will be based at Computer 2000’s offices in Basingstoke.
Interestingly, Tech Data has just signed to distribute T-Mobile’s full range to resellers across Europe – smartphones, GPRS/EDGE and 3G data cards, embedded SIM modules, and “activation services”.

Tech Data’s existing footprint and logistics capabilities look a good match with Brightstar’s knowledge of the mobile market and especially its relationships with leading manufacturers. It does tend to be identified with Motorola, however; it is Motorola’s biggest distributor, and has just extended that relationship into a global deal.

Brightstar has just acquired another European mobile distributor, Dangaard of Denmark, which is strong in Northern Europe and some former USSR territories.

Bob Dutkowsky, CEO of Tech Data, sees big opportunities for the venture. “As the mobile device industry continues to expand, Brightstar Europe will serve as a critical supply chain partner – enabling manufacturers and operators to reduce costs, improve delivery times and invest more in next generation technologies. “

Marcelo Claure, president, CEO and chairman of Brightstar Corp (busy bloke) agrees. “The European mobile device market is highly fragmented in terms of supply chain and distribution services. We believe that Brightstar Europe will transform service levels provided to operators, retailers and manufacturers, significantly reducing operating costs and improving mobile device delivery throughout the region.”

“Through this joint venture, we are introducing next generation distribution to the European market.” That will be interesting to watch.

Management recruitment is under way now. Claure obviously has bags of spare time, because he will be acting MD of Brightstar Europe.

Former 20:20 Logistics MD Rod Millar is expected to take over later this year.

Marcelo Claure is in his mid 30s, on the dynamic side, and is keen on the ‘value chain’ idea. A few months ago he summarised his attitude to distribution like this: “If you want to be able to build a sustainable model, you’ve got to be able to involve yourself in certain segments of the value chain. When you’re just a distribution company that buys and sells products to make a profit, it will not take long for buyer to connect with seller and go direct.”

Claure founded Brightstar nine years ago. It has just reported revenues for 2006 of over $3.5b, more than 50% up on the year before.

Happy man: Marcelo Claure of Brightstar