Connecting businesses…

Connecting businesses…

Andy Tow, managing director, Avenir Telecom

Andy Tow, managing director, Avenir Telecom

Avenir Telecom has been focused on the accessories market for some time, but the UK division has now launched, a comparison website for SME’s that will act as a lead generator for mobile dealers across the country. Here, Andy Tow, managing director at Avenir, gives us the low down on the new site.

Avenir Telecom is launching this April, a comparison website for the channel to use for business to business sales for the smaller end of the marketplace.

Connecting Business is the only B2B telecoms comparison website in the UK, comments Tow. He explains why Avenir decided there was a need for Connecting Business: “Smaller corporations need a B2B firm for direct sales, but they need more attention than they currently receive. They don’t want to have to queue up at their local mobile store to get service.

Best opinion for businesses

“Then again, there is so much choice out there, it can be difficult for them to get a good opinion face to face or online on what is the best product or service for their business,” he says.

“It’s important to understand what you’re selling, and also who you’re selling it to,” continues Tow. “Connecting Business target’s SMEs, with the aim of making everything much easier for them. There are several online comparison websites for consumers; Carphone Warehouse owns half a dozen of them. But there aren’t any at all just for businesses in this area, so we feel we have found a niche for business telecoms.”

As for what the site will offer users, Tow says the clue is in the name; it will offer everything to do with communications for businesses. It will initially profile mobile deals, and eventually will also offer fixed line with O2’s Joined Up Communication, IT products for the office, including LANs, WANs and other related products and services, plus utilities such as gas and electricity, and all by the middle of this year, Tow stated.


Sub-set of new dealers

The new business is part of Avenir’s airtime division, but it is creating a sub-set of dealers, explains Tow. “We are making a branded network of Connecting Business dealers. While some business will want to buy online from the site, we think the majority will still want to see a sales consultant, to make sure they’re getting the right deal. Our dealers will be the sales people, doing the deal; all we will be is the administrator, paying commissions and revenue share.

“Each dealer we sign up for Connecting Business will have regional rights, divided up by post code. We probably won’t have more than 50 dealers in total, and we are recruiting them now. Our national sales manager for Connecting Business is in charge of on-boarding dealers for this, and when they are all in place, he will help manage them,” remarked Tow.

Tow adds: “The new site is huge; it’s taken almost a year to build and is very complex behind the scenes. Dealers will be able to use it as a genuine, trusted comparison website, but the deals offered are not just based on price. Results are based on brand value, produces, services, unique selling points, location, coverage, price and a lot more.”

If successful in the UK, Connecting Business will be rolled out across Avenir’s European regions, Tow claims.


Accessories boom

Avenir is still focused heavily on the accessories side of its business, Tow states. He comments the Group business is forecasting to more than double its accessories growth over 2011, as it is set to start supplying a number of High Street shops, both specialists and operator-branded.

Tow commented: “Accessories are now at a tipping point of significant growth for Avenir. We started in this area a couple of years ago and have been growing it steadily. But now, we have a number of retailers who are about to buy in bulk from us, and that is what will see our accessory revenues take off vertically.

“We are forecasting over 100% growth in accessories in one year, to Euro 100 million for the Group to end of March 2012. The UK is a standalone business in its own right, and will generate a significant proportion of that turnover,” he says.


Consolidation calm down

As for the rest of the market, Tow states that while he and everyone else in the mobile distribution industry has been forecasting more and more consolidation between businesses for the last few years, he thinks it is now settling down.

He explains: “We’ve got a lot less mobile distribution players left now. I think we’re through the worst of the consolidation now. Companies are bigger now, such as the likes of Micro P owned by DCC, HSC owned by Carphone Warehouse, and Daisy Distribution being the amalgamation of several large business.

“I think right across the market, it’s consolidated. There’s been a lot of activity recently and we’re on the tail end of that now. The market feels fairly stable,” he concludes.

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