Distie of the future
“My idea is for us to be the distie of the future, rather than like the existing, legacy distributors around today,” states Doughty. “We’re not tied to legacy relationships while trying to move into new areas; other mobile distributors’ primary focus is on trying to retain what they’ve got rather than move into new areas. We’re lucky because of the size of this business, in that we as a mobile division are incremental to the company, we are brand new, and we can focus on shaping an entirely new business for now and the future that has a lot of power.
“We’re the only distributor that has a mobile division, a fixed line division, and an IT division, so we can cross pollinate all those markets. That also enables our dealers to grow their product set and knowledge, whereas before they would have had to go to three or four different disties, we now deliver the whole solution,” adds Doughty.
Growth over the financial year, which begins in January, has gone well for Micro-P, comments Doughty. The business stated back in January that it was looking to grow its mobile division by 300% over two years, which at that time contributed around 5% of the complete business turnover.
“It’s shaped up really well,” comments Doughty. “Our dealer-base growth is up year on year and incrementally every month since the start of the year. We bring on board new accounts to the mobile division every month. We’ve gone through quite a transition period, bringing in all the air time guys so we now provide Orange and T-Mobile on top of O2, Vodafone and 3, plus Samsung to complement Acer in the handset space and the likes of Jabra and Jawbone on accessories, plus we’ve grown and are growing our internal team to support everything. Everyone we were aiming to bring in as a supplier, we have got,” Doughty notes.
Doughty’s mobile division is taking on new resellers and dealers from both the outside world, (around 40%) and from the other two divisions in the company (around 60%). However, as the fixed line division is the same fresh-faced age as the mobile division, dealers and resellers coming to mobile from that division also count as new to the business overall. The IT side of the business is of particular interest for cross-pollination into mobile; Micro-P has a 10,000-strong IT reseller and dealer base. At the same time, Doughty states it is important, and exciting, to be helping mobile dealers and resellers move over into both the fixed line side, and the world of IT.
He explains: “The need for an understanding of the wider IT office infrastructure is much greater now for mobile dealers. All three segments, of mobile, fixed line and IT, used to be discreet and didn’t cross over. Now, mobile phones link into Exchange and email and other PC-based features. So as a mobile dealer you need to understand how that works, and for PBX dealers, they need to know how their hardware links to mobile, hosted solutions and VoIP.
“We’re confident the new customers we’re bringing on board are helping to grow the market, rather than cannibalise the existing market; we’re not trying to eat up other mobile distributors dealer bases. We’re trying to help mobile guys move into new areas like IT, and help IT guys move into mobile, and the same for those in fixed line. Dealers can come to Micro-P, utilise our technical sales teams, and we will help them form a crosssector proposal that is exactly what they need.”
The idea is definitely working; the mobile division has just had a record quarter in terms of trading customers, revenues and profitability, states Doughty. “We will continue to grow, help and work with our resellers and dealers, brining new dealers and resellers on board, and growing our internal team.”
On the rest of the mobile distribution market, Doughty adds that consolidation will definitely continue, as there is no need in this industry for a one trick pony: “We can’t have so many airtimeonly, accessory-only, or handset-only distributors; what value do they add for the dealer? Where can those companies go next to keep them moving forward?
“If you look at the existing mobile disties out there, they are operating now at the top of their game. Where can they go next? None of them that I am aware of, bar one, possibly two, are growing, acquiring or moving into new areas. There will be more consolidation and acquisition in the mobile distribution space because of this stalemate; the question is simply when,” Doughty concludes.
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