HSC's year of transition

HSC's year of transition
HSC saw a year of transition in 2009. After changes including the rebranding and re-launch of its 'VIP' dealer club, the distributor has emerged with a confidence in its market position thanks to a strong belief in the elements of its business that make it stand out.

To celebrate a successful year and to build on its existing partner relationships, HSC
has invited a group of top dealers to Bournemouth, its hometown.

Sixty delegates arrive at the distributor's first 'mobile club and awards evening', to hear from the HSC team on milestones reached in 2009 and plans for the coming 12 months.
Network partners, manufacturers and software partners are also present to give dealers an opportunity to talk to them directly.

The day starts with a presentation from O2 to HSC 'Approved Partners' - the programme that was launched earlier in 2009.

Next up is HSC business manager Bob Sweetlove, who offers his perspective on how the business and the industry has developed and how it will change.

Sweetlove is keen to make it clear that dealers will continue to have a place in the market with the help of HSC, saying: 'It is all about supporting local independent dealers and choice.'

His presentation covers some of the major turning points of 2009, including the merger of T-Mobile and Orange, Ofcom's new General Condition 23, and increasingly successful sales of mobile broadband.

Sweetlove believes most of the industry developments have been positive. Talking about General Condition 23, which puts the onus on the operator for mis-selling at any level, he says: 'Ofcom has imposed conditions on all of us as a result of cashback, mis-selling and a lot of complaints. There are certain things you must do now and it plays into our hands because we want good quality partners.'

Sales manager Carlos Pestana follows Sweetlove to talk about how HSC will continue to support its dealers by focusing on four objectives in 2010: growing the company's customer base, being the 'dealers' champion', providing channel support, and giving dealers control over their businesses.

The distributor has already been working on these objectives throughout 2009 and reveals it is trading with 25% more dealers than it was at the start of the year. It also emerges that HSC has shipped 608,000 units last year, and 555 dealers have bought
from the company in the past six months.

One area of business that HSC is particularly keen to focus on is Sim-free handsets, due to the access it has to a wide product range - a result of HSC being owned by Carphone Warehouse.

Pestana says: 'The beauty is, we have access to the entire range of Carphone Warehouse products - half a million handsets at any time - and in theory, we should be able to offer a wider range than some of our competitors.

'We are gradually bringing down a wider selection of laptops and continue to develop manufacturer relationships.'

HSC marketing manager Theresa Williams and senior technical consultant Antony Board both outline how the distributor will continue to provide dealers with the tools they need to remain independent and successful.

Technical support was introduced into the company's portfolio of services over one year ago, and has since evolved significantly. HSC is the first distributor to become a BlackBerry certified support specialist.

In the evening, HSC holds an awards ceremony to celebrate the industry and the business. Roll on 2010.

HSC Awards winners
HSC Sales Person of the Year: Zoe Mole
HSC Support Person of the Year: Antony Board
HSC O2 Approved Stockist of the Year: Bluetone
HSC T-Mobile PROStockist of the Year: Rose Communications
Best Manufacturer: BlackBerry
Best Network: Orange
Convergence Reseller of the Year: USIC
HSC Employee of the Year: Zoe Mole
HSC dealer of the Year: Connect U

Dealer feedback on the day
Liberty Bell voice and data director Jay Motorwala: 'It gave me a really good insight and helped me to understand the different functions that HSC offers. I have not made use of the technical support before, but now that it has been brought to my attention I will definitely use it.'

MSM Communications MD Mustafa Moledina:
'The technical side is something I will be taking up as sometimes training is difficult. It will help our staff - information is key.'

Angel Telecoms MD Stuart Hudson: 'It was a very useful presentation as it gave me an opportunity to understand the strategies of HSC moving forward, as well as insight into new products and the general way the market is going to be.'

Q&A with Bob Sweetlove
How have you increased your customer base by 25%?
Overall, the number of dealer businesses has decreased. There are three main reasons why they are buying from us: we have improved our service - as well as doing the basics and added value, we are doing things that others are not doing, and you also can't discount the impact of hardware sales - there are dealers using us for hardware that have not before.

Why do you think dealers are attracted to HSC?

In tough times, dealers must have confidence that their revenue share and deferred payments are still going to be paid in the future. I think the dealer base is now of a higher quality and we are not losing a lot of clients.

You connect all the networks apart from Vodafone, how do you feel about that?
We want our dealers to provide any network, handset or tariff. I would prefer to have it [Vodafone], as it would make our business stronger.

What is HSC's biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is keeping pace with all the developments of our industry. We have had to build our knowledge on broadband and fixed line very quickly. It is also about keeping our business flexible enough to cope with the changes.

What is your prediction for the coming year?
The independent dealer will come to the fore again. They are one of the cheapest routes to come to market. We are going to fight for the local independent dealer; we need to fight for them. They must find the customers, but ultimately they can do that because they are the people on the ground in their communities.
Written by Mobile Today
Mobile Today


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