Hyundai Mobile has backed down on its plans to move into the UK market, as its parent company and European distribution partner, Leitz-Austria has gone into administration.
Leitz-Austria went into administration on 1 July, after an out of court agreement failed. Leitz-Austria has debts of Euro 17.4 million, and unsecured liabilities of Euro 19.07 million.
From 1997 to 2007, Leitz-Austria was Samsung’s European distribution partner, yet it dropped this agreement in order to focus sales distribution entirely through Hyundai Mobile, a European sales network for which had to be developed at great expense.
Hyundai Mobile Europe Generalvertretung was founded in September 2008 as a 100% subsidiary of Leitz-Austria Vertriebs by managing directors Norbert Winkler, Christian Kirchner and Manuel Laporta.
Sales volumes at Leitz-Austria dropped rapidly from Euro 240 million, to between Euro 60 million to Euro 100 million.
Hyundai Mobile has had a tough time in the UK since March, when it failed to find an alternative launch partner after the collapse of Advantage Cellular Communications.
As well as the deteriorating global economy to contend with, Hyundai Mobile UK had been relying on basing itself at Advantage Cellular’s offices to start the new national business and to provide distribution.
However, Advantage Cellular Communications went into administration on Thursday 19 March, following the removal of its funding by the company’s Polish financial backer, the billionaire, Roman Karkosik.
Graham Jelfs, who was head of marketing and communications at Hyundai Mobile UK, said that it was a very sad day: “A lot of hard work has been put in, the media launch was really successful, and have had a lot of interest and requests from people wanting to buy our products. So it’s really sad we didn’t get the whole thing up and running.”
On why Hyundai Mobile has pulled out of the UK, Jelfs said he was not able to comment on the exact reasons. However, he added: “Setting up took a lot longer than expected; basically it’s the global economic situation.”
Jelfs is now looking for a new position.
Hyundai Mobile was intent on helping mobile dealers make a decent margin on handsets, by providing affordable devices that lessen the financial impact of operator commission restructuring.
Jelfs said in February that Hyundai has the brand name and the build quality to attract end users, so would be concentrating on making sure mobile dealers get the best value for money.
At Mobile World Congress, the company showcased its new range, including the Dolphin feature phone.