Brightstar Europe has clinched a significant distribution deal with Chinese manufacturer Huawei to help drive sales of upcoming devices, Mobile understands.
The deal sees Huawei add Brightstar to its distributor stable, which currently includes rival distributors 20:20 Mobile and Data Select. The move is part of the Chinese manufacturer’s wider strategy to expand its distribution network in the UK as it vies for a greater share of the UK smartphone market.
Brightstar’s brief will be to broaden and strengthen retail sales of Huawei’s latest devices in the UK including the Ascend P1 smartphone (pictured), which is set to launch next month.
Brightstar won the bid after being shortlisted against rival distributor Micro-P, Mobile understands. Both distributors declined to comment. Huawei was unavailable for comment.
Analysts view Huawei’s Brightstar deal as a shrewd move. CCS Insight telecoms analyst Ben Wood said: ‘Brightstar is a logical addition to the Huawei stable. This is all about Huawei wanting to extend its reach as far as possible and Brightstar can help them do that by opening additional doors.
‘Brightstar has a good track record and very good people, particularly Jim Michel [Brightstar UK MD], who is a very credible and well established face in the industry. Jim also has long standing relations with the Huawei devices team, so it is a good move.’
Francisco Jeronimo, IDC’s European mobile devices research manager, said the move would give Huawei a stronger presence in the open market. He said: ‘This is a very important step as Huawei needs to increase sales in the Sim-free market and the only way to do that is through Brightstar and 20:20 Mobile. Getting Brightstar to drive demand in retail will also help drive demand for Huawei’s devices from operators.’
The deal with Brightstar comes as Huawei gears up for a major marketing assault on the UK consumer market. Next month, the company is planning to launch a concerted above the line marketing campaign to back the launch of its new devices and to raise brand awareness among UK consumers in the run up to the final quarter of 2012.
Huawei is also investing heavily in research and development and is planning to open a design centre in London this year as part of a wider strategy to improve the quality of Huawei devices and drive sales in the mid- to high-range.
Wood said investment in marketing was essential to Huawei’s plans for growth in the UK. He added: ‘Huawei wants to assert its brand and move up the value curve into the mid and even the high tier range. The big question is how much is Huawei prepared to spend in marketing and in pricing their devices in order to get a meaningful position in the UK market?’