Introducing… Z-Three

Introducing… Z-Three

Philipp Gutzwiller, commercial director, Z-Three
Philipp Gutzwiller, commercial director, Z-Three

Z-Three is the latest addition to the UK mobile distribution ecosystem. However, this accessories distie is not a start up. It has been based in Britain for five years, starting out as the original Master Distributor for all BlackBerry accessories globally. Now, it is known as an established partner to carriers, distributors, retailers and corporate clients in over 50 countries, for BlackBerry and now other manufacturer accessories and solutions, and it is looking to build a new UK-based channel.

“Our aim is to have 25% of our business turnover from the UK, from the 8% to 9% it is right now, within 12 months from now” states Philipp Gutzwiller, commercial director at Z-Three. “We must do this in one year, not because we will go belly-up if we don’t, but because there are so many opportunities here, so if we don’t achieve our goal in 12 months we are clearly doing something wrong.”

Gutzwiller continues: “We also want to diversify into a number of different channels to market. In the UK we need to step out of the role of Master Distributor for BlackBerry accessories, selling to distributors who then sell onto the resellers and dealer. We have the logistics here to do anything we want.


“Establishing new routes to the UK market is what I’m interested in,” Gutzwiller remarks. “I want to develop as many different routes to market as are needed. When I joined this company, 95% of our sales were to distributors outside of the UK. We are making drastic changes to that figure now.”


Push and shove

The reason Z-Three is diversifying its routes to market and product set is because one day 18 months ago, BlackBerry turned around and told the company it was too small to stay the sole Master Distributor of BlackBerry accessories.

Z-Three had created a healthy business, big enough for RIM to pay attention to it. RIM handed over direct responsibility for various geographical regions to local distributors; the most painful for Zthree was the Middle East, where previously in Dubai and Bahrain Z-Three had made a solid 50% of its business. Now, I’m sure, Z-Three can chuckle quietly as it has moved on, while a backlash against BlackBerry Messaging and other BlackBerry services is kicking off in that region.

Z-Three has now taken on agents across Europe, to work on the ground in establishing strong locally-based businesses. “We have found it is very important to have people who understand local issues working for us,” notes Gutzwiller. The company currently has agents in Spain, Austria, Germany and France, and soon will have agents working in Italy, Turkey and Israel.



However, in its diversification of ways to market, Gutzwiller is aware that Z-Three is too small a business to be the first choice direct partner of large retail clients. He is helping steer Z-Three through a number of avenues in the UK in order to get around this issue.

Gutzwiller comments on one avenue: “Big retail clients wouldn’t necessarily want to deal with us because we are too small, and we wouldn’t necessarily want to deal with a client like that because of their terms and conditions. At the same time, large distributors may not be interested in dealing themselves with the intricacies of fiddly accessories, which is where we come in.

“We would like to supply large retailers directly, sometimes with help from a partner, such as another distributor who can handle the contractual relationship with a large client such as a supermarket. In that case, we would contribute by handling the product supply, packaging and sales on the shop floor, so helping the distributor’s relationship with the larger client. For the distributor direct partner, it’s all about incremental business, while we get to contribute to the deal and the client covers all bases. Everyone is happy.”


Hello Britain

Additionally, Z-Three intends to build a dealer channel to help it on its way to achieving 25% of its total revenue from the UK. Gutzwiller points to its £6.5 million turnover at the end of June 2010, with 35% growth on new sales year on year, despite the recession and Z-Three’s move out from being a supplier purely of BlackBerry products.

Z-Three has 12 people in its office working under managing director, Oliver King, plus up to 20 people in the warehouse. King recently appointed Lara McIvor as sales manager for the UK and Ireland. She will set and drive Z-Three’s sales strategy in the region across multiple channels, including carriers, retailers and resellers, as well as public and private enterprises.

Gutzwiller says: “Our growing range of accessories is designed to help people with smartphones solve business problems and become more efficient, such as ensuring security or using the phone in new ways. That’s a very different mindset to simply box shifting accessories and we work in close partnership with our customers, something Lara is very accomplished at achieving.”

This London-based company works closely with its clients to find accessories based solutions to meet common needs of BlackBerry and other smartphone users. Its expertise ranges from device and data protection to secure handsfree communication, improved input and output of data, as well as a wide range of power supply solutions.

Attention to detail is a passion for Z-Three, says Gutzwiller. “Being creative, supplying ideas and innovative solutions, adding value, supplying packages and finding solutions that enhance smartphones is what we’re about.”

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