Dixons Carphone CEO Sebastian James has warned the industry to ‘change or die’ in the face of a sluggish and increasingly saturated market.
The UK boss spoke exclusively to Mobile after being crowned Person of the Year for the second year in a row at this year’s Mobile Industry Awards.
James explained that the industry shift in consumer appetite to virtual reality (VR) and the Internet of Things (IoT) will force a number of players to roll with the punches. He previously hailed ‘canny customers’ for demanding new technology and services from the high street brand. The business also recently introduced VR demonstration zones in store.
‘The mantra for all retailers must be 'change or die',’ he said. ‘Customers are thinking and buying in new ways, our markets are saturated and sluggish, there are many externalities - like Brexit - which can affect us. Our industry in the UK has been experiencing a period of unprecedented change.
‘Customer appetite for beautiful, convenient and genuinely useful technology is ever increasing and I know that our manufacturer partners have a great pipeline of products coming. I think that we will begin to see connected IoT devices move into the mainstream, and that VR will move from being a novelty into being a real category with real applications. There will also probably be some more structural change in the industry and the gossip is rife about who will buy whom.’
‘We have changed and will change much more,’ he continued. ‘For customers, it is no longer about stuff. It is about connected stuff - that is working - and has great content. It is about finding somebody that you trust to make that happen and save you both time and money. We are in a unique position to deliver this and I think that in a decade our business will look completely different.
12 month plan
James has taken significant steps over the last year to boost the Dixons Carphone brand, securing a US deal with Sprint as well as successfully launching its iD MVNO and combining Currys PC World with Carphone Warehouse as part of a new 3-in-1 store format. Speaking about how he will tackle the next 12 months, James said that primary focus will be on the company's core retail proposition, both in the UK and the US.
‘In the year ahead we will continue to innovate in our core retail business’, he said, ‘with some exciting digital developments as well as same day delivery. We will launch a new service proposition that will, in time, change the way people think about technology and how we can help them make the most of it, we will commission the most modern small products distribution centre in Europe We will also open at least 150 new Sprint stores across the US, conclude our amazing 3-in-1 property programme in the UK and much more.’