Nicky Trup talks to David Saab, Sweex?s area manager for the UK and Ireland?

Interview: Sweex

How was this year for Sweex?
Our ‘Style Your PC Bunch of Fruit’ range of accessories has catapulted Sweex into the lifestyle PC accessories market, opening up some exciting doors for us. And our success with the new ranges of media players have exceeded our expectations. In less than a year we’ve brought five new models to market and the High Street favourite WHSmith is running a national TV campaign over Christmas featuring our devices.

How do you see Christmas going for the technology industry?
Christmas sales for the tech industry will be a lot more buoyant than last year. Certainly purchasers are confidently placing healthy forecasts and larger orders are already shipping. As far as Sweex goes, we’ll be up 20 per cent on last year; a trend we have established over the last few years.

What do you think will be big next year, tech-wise?
In general, tablet PCs, but specifically with regards to the peripherals shelf space I really believe ‘lifestyle’ accessories will continue to be the square footage that brings in the bacon for retailers.

The winning brands will be those that successfully make accessories cool and fun, not just functional. It’s attractively packaged, affordable, unique and stylish products that make a retail shelf look stunning.

Do you think touchscreen tablets will eat into the peripherals market?
Touchscreen tablets will create a new retail opportunity of their own, but Sweex is sprinting while others are just getting warmed up, so watch this space because we are also planning to take advantage of the touchscreen explosion.

Last we heard, Sweex was planning on opening a sales and marketing base in the UK; what’s the aim of opening the new office?

Next year will mark a year of unprecedented growth in Europe for Sweex and particularly in the UK and Ireland. To support this growth, we want to deliver a second-to-none level of service and expertise.

Purchasers are busy people and retailers demand vendors who can deliver a complete retail solution through expert distribution partners. We run a pretty tight ship at our HQ in the Netherlands and our aim is to mirror their expertise with local staff who can respond well and deliver retail solutions. The number of staff and rollout is still to be finalised.

Are there any other plans for 2011, in terms of product launches and forward strategy?
The plans for 2011 are truly breathtaking. We have a new consumer electronics brand being launched along with our new street audio brand, ‘Rocking Residence’ – or ‘RocRes’.

And did I mention our joint partnership with National Geographic for a new range of accessories, or the new stylish line of home networking products under the ‘Connected Home’ tag? Needless to say, Sweex is is pulling far ahead of the competition in these areas, so watch this space.

Are you hoping to expand your distribution or reseller base?
We owe our growth in the UK to a handful of loyal distributors, who continue to do a great job for us. Our aim is to continue working with our distributors as we develop our new headgear and consumer electronics brands. But I confess we are not an over-represented brand, so if we did stumble across a non-conflicting partner to help us capitalise on the new ranges, I would be a fool to say no. We want to grow, our partners want to grow and Sweex is just at the start of becoming a recognisable brand in the UK.

What differentiates you from your competitors?
When you’ve been around for as long as I have, one appreciates the personality of a company, warts ‘n’ all.

At Sweex, we believe our customers expect us to keep being different to satisfy their needs in the future. Our lifeblood and expertise is being able to bring new and exciting concepts into a crowded retail space.

We’re the undiscovered ‘guilty pleasure’ peripherals brand. We’re not Logitech, we’re not Belkin, but we sit side-by-side in the same space offering better margins, something unique and fast stock-turns; a retailer’s dream. Not to mention, we have some pretty eye-catching FSDUs, POS, 12-year warranties and pan-European distribution.

We’re like the black cab of the peripherals market. We may not be the most expensive brand, but would you rather zip around town in a charismatic Hackney Carriage or in a ponced-up limo? I know which I would choose!

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