The distributor discusses its history and its own product brand...

Interview: CCI

After a strong year, CCI is looking to drive its storage distribution business further in the UK, as well as its own brand of products. Andrew Wooden talks to Marketing Manager Paul Evison and Managing Director Paul Roughley…

How has the last year been for CCI?

PR: Last year was about the realisation that the recession was really biting. We’ve pulled out of some of the major retailers due to credit limits. We downscaled about 20 per cent in terms of people, and basically cut our monthly costs back by £50,000. So since July we’ve rebuilt the company into a profitable situation every month.

The key area for us over the last nine months has been the growth of the NAS market, both consumer and business. Now we’re doing in excess of half a million pound a month in NAS. The bulk of that is Asian sourced technology – we do integration, installation and warranty and maintenance on that.

As well as companies like Synology, we established our own Storage Options brand. We’ve built a full support service alongside that brand, for the two key areas of CCTV and tablets.

With regards to tablets, we started off with a ‘me too’ product, a seven-inch resistive device, which we sold about 10,000 of over the Christmas period. We’ve now moved it on to a capacitive screen in seven and eight-inch models. We’re also releasing a miScroll product for the more teenage market at £119.

So when did you launch the Storage Options brand?

PR: Q3 last year was optical and flash, Q4 was tablets, then Q1 is the launch of consumer CCTV.

Do you notice any friction carrying your own brand as well as ‘rival’ products?

PR: We’re not competing with any of our vendors on technologies. Traditionally our business is storage, hard drive based storage and optical. It’s new technology.

PE: It’s complementary to our main distribution business. We’ve tried to fill gaps if we see them or go into completely new areas, as we did with the tablets.

One of the other areas you’re strong in is CCTV, which is becoming increasingly digitised and intertwined with computing and IT. Is this an area PC retailers should look at more now?

PR: We started off with cameras, CCTV standalone cameras. That’s evolved into a full, self-installable consumer, small four-camera system for a house or
small business.

It’s only been on a limited basis at retail; we’ve partnered with one particular retailer – Maplin. And the initial signs are very good.

PE: As the market moves more into digital equipment, people with IT knowledge and networking knowledge will be able to install IP cameras and have that march over the current CCTV people. I think there’s an opportunity there for some of PCR’s readers.

So with regards to the tablets, the USP appears to be the comparatively low price compared to say the iPad. Would you say the market’s currently got the price tag a bit high for tablets?

PR: If you put Apple to one side, because that’s a unique proposition where it can achieve those price points, our proposition will actually increase in price as we add more to the product. They are currently £119 to £159 RRP.

PE: The market is growing in the £100 to £200 bracket. It’s also growing in the £300 to £400 bracket, but overall the price at that top end is shrinking and going down. We think we’re ideally positioned in that £100 to £200 bracket. GfK told us if you took out subsidised sales of the iPad from telco stores, we’re actually the leader in the market in that area. 

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