A hike in demand for wearable technology underpinned a 129 per cent growth in annual sales at consumer electronics distributor Widget UK.
The firm, which counts Argos, Shop Direct, Amazon and John Lewis Partnership as some of its customers, saw turnover rise a whopping 129 per cent from £25.6m to £58.4m for the year ended 31 March, as its investments in Europe continued to pay dividends.
Back in 2012, the firm bought a majority stake in NOW-Mobile BV, cementing its presence in northern Europe, and widening its reach for vendors such as Orbitsound, Fitbit and Sphero. Last December Widget extended its reach into Scandinavia by acquiring a minority stake in Newgen Distribution AB, based in Stockholm Sweden.
Speaking to CRN sister pubilcation Channelnomics Europe, Needham said Europe was key to its growth: “We have been adding new customers across Scandinavia and Benelux and are seeing real interest from retailers in the region. “The fact that we as a brand can represent a vendor across a whole area of northern Europe as well as the US, has been very appealing, particularly to US vendors.”
He added that the firm is planning to enter new territories using its Eindhoven base as a hub. “It is only across the German border, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t enter the German market, and I’m expecting our European business to double in our current financial year.”
Needham said the firm had added headcount both in Eindhoven and at its Stevenage-based UK HQ. “It has been wearable technology that has really done well for us, and we are seeing sales to corporate customers increase as well as consumers. More firms want their staff to exercise more and are investing in the technology to help them.”
He also said the firm was set to announce two new vendor partners for the UK and Europe in the near future, but kept the identity of the vendors close to his chest. David Elder, managing director of Widget, said that “the company has had a year of outstanding growth”.
“We have a strong portfolio of wearable technology products,” he said, “and our retail customers are achieving great sell through with them, both in the UK and across Northern Europe. The year is shaping up well and we'll be adding some interesting and innovative new products to our range.”
And Needham added that the firm would be looking at further investment in the coming year to fuel growth. “This kind of rapid growth does provide funding challenges,” he said. “But our aim to build a business with £100m turnover is within reach now.”
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