Now that's what I call aggression!
Last July, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms Harriet Green, CEO, Farnell Electronics, a part of the Premier Farnell group of companies. It is soon going to be a year since the company set up presence in India. Farnell has aggressive plans for India, with the company likely to look at converting at least 3,500 prospects this year.
I met up with Nader Tadros, Commercial Marketing Director APAC, Premier Farnell (see picture here), and Navin Honnavar, marketing manager, Farnell Electronics India Pvt. Ltd to get an update on Farnell.
According to Tadros, Farnell is said to be the number 1 small-order high service multi-channel distributor in the world. "We carry obver 3,500 leading suppliers and 450,000 product stocks globally. We have 36 transactional websites in 23 languages," he added.
Farnell currently has six warehouses -- one in America, and two in Europe and three in Asia -- Sydney, Shanghai and Singapore. In India, it now has nine branch offices, and one contact center and one global tech center (GTC) -- in Bangalore. The GTC provides live chat and board level support, which also translates into global support.
Tadros said that Farnell is aggressively are supporting the EDE (electronic design engineers) community and MRO (maintenance, repair, operatoinal) marketplace. "We have taken particular focus on developing the EDE space, providing support, services and relevant products. We want to make sure the value proposition is mapped on to the EDE needs," he said. Elaborating on the value proposition, he cited an example of x-ray machine manufacturers.
Global business strategy
Farnell has a four-pronged global business strategy. This includes:
* Focusing on global EDE customer segment.
* Increase business via the Web.
* Continue to develop profitable MRO business.
Tadros believes that the power of the Web is tremendous. "It is very useful for customers to search and transact. Another area is customer demand. They are looking for efficiencies," he added. "An important aspect that can help us is that we are able to understand customers; needs. The data that the web search is able to provide gives us the critical information. If a customer searches for a part, and we track that, we are able to service their needs better."
Hasn't Farnell been affected by the recession? Tadros said: "We are not immune to the recession. The volatlity is higher, and it is also at the customer level." Honnavar added: "Our strategy seems to be working for us. We are maintaining our base in the MRO space. We are still pulling in customer requests and still growing."
So, what else is Farnell doing, besides these activities? Well, it has adopted a multichannel approach for the Asia Pacific region. It has 154 staff in eight call centers, besides being involved in direct and e-marketing. The company has nine local websites -- simplified chinese for China, thai for Thailand, and English for India, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. Besides, it has 103 field sales engineers in 29 sales offices.
I started this post by saying I liked Farnell's aggressive plans. It currently has 2,500 active customers and 9,000 prospects in India alone. The company has a target to reach $25 mn by 2010. It is also a walue added distributor offering products to leading suppliers such as Texas Instruments, Molex, and 3,500 other leading brands.
Touching on Farnell's clients in India, Honnavar said: "We have independent design houses, resellers, R&D centers, educational centers, government organizations (such as BEL, HAL), etc., among our customers. The prospects includes a huge list of people. We have touched the top layers in tier 2 cities -- such as Coimbatore and Ahmedabad. We are looking at converting 3,500 prospects this year."
More focus on components, SMEs
The components industry isn't exactly in the pink of health right now. Giving his views on the electronics and components space, Tadros said: "Customers themselves are not able to anticipate the demand for the next quarter or periods. We are seeing that there is still growth in the EDE space and inquiries are still coming in. During a recession, you have an opportunity to distinguish yourself from competition. There is pressure on teams as they have to continually innovate. Customers require more even support, more technical documentation, and look for faster turnaround times."
Farnell is in a position to help those SMEs who are in the electronics and components spaces. Tadros said that the company can support such SMEs by helping them to build their markets in a timely fashion.
Honnavar added that Farnell is focusing on building a product and purchasing team, sitting out of Singapore and Hong Kong. "Moving forward, you will probably get to see more buying happening in the Asia Pacific region. Going ahead, a lot of sourcing will also be done from India." The company intends to be extremely close to suppliers, especially in the Greater China region.