HTC has inked a direct distribution deal with Phones 4u in an aggressive bid to grow its UK market share.
The move will give the manufacturer more control of its retail relationships, bypassing its exclusive distributor Brightpoint.
HTC came to an agreement with Carphone Warehouse to sell directly through the retailer in May last year, leading some industry observers to speculate that similar deals with other retailers would be struck.
Sources said the move would give HTC more control by bringing sales in house.
Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston said: ‘HTC will now control pricing and marketing messages. HTC is trying to do its own branding before it went to operators and now it is pulling in.’
HTC executive director UK and Ireland Jon French (pictured) told Mobile in July that the manufacturer was ‘expanding [its] points of distribution all the time’, adding that there would be new points of distribution ‘before the end of this year’ where HTC handsets haven't been seen before.
However, some retailer sources thought it was unlikely that HTC would form any more direct deals with independent retailers.
One retail source said: ‘Very few retailers want to go direct. It is OK for the likes of Carphone as it has a big warehousing facility but most retailers, even the big supermarkets, don¹t want the logistical problems that come with a direct deal, just to shave a couple of quid off the handset.’
HTC is currently number four in smartphone sales worldwide behind Nokia, Apple and RIM.
French said: ‘Signing a direct supplier agreement is a natural evolution in the relationship between Phones 4u and HTC. Over the past few years, the HTC brand has grown remarkably, thanks, in part, to the popularity of phones like the HTC Desire and Wildfire.’
‘This new relationship recognises the growing influence of the HTC brand, and its resonance with mobile users.’
‘By working more closely with Phones 4u than ever before, we are confident that we will be able to deliver an even better experience to our UK customers.’
Phones 4u trading director Scott Hooton said: ‘This is about providing the best service and some of the industry's most innovative and exciting mobile phones to our customers. We have great confidence in HTC as a brand and in its wide portfolio of handsets. Every day we are seeing more and more Phones 4u customers asking for HTC models so we are looking forward to a successful relationship with HTC, beginning with a great Q4.’