We caught up with Steve Bland to talk about the firm's own tablet brand

KMS: ‘Most people should be involved with tablets’

As KMS Components celebrates a record start to 2013, PCR talks with sales director Steve Bland to discuss the firm’s success and the driving force behind it…

How has 2013 been for KMS so far?
Amazing. We have just been running through the numbers and it has been a record quarter for us as we run up to our 20th year.

If we continue in the vein that we’ve started in this year, we’ll have another increase of between 20 and 25 per cent on the previous year.

It seems that a lot of firms in consumer electronics are benefiting from healthy demand at the moment?
Yes – we’ve obviously seen some new players in the consumer electronics space and I think it’s certainly giving some of us some great products.

I think it’s a breath of fresh air for everyone really, not just distribution, but for retailers and for everyone else.

We’ve been so focused on selling peripherals and accessories surrounding PCs for so long now and to be honest, the majority of the distribution channel hasn’t been able to enjoy the laptop revolution that has happened within the market over the last few years.

So tablets and other new tech is giving us all a chance to move into new sectors.

Do you feel that it’s important for brands to widen their scope as consumers increasingly move away from traditional PCs and turn to tablets and other mobile devices?
I think so yes. I think in some shape or form that most people should be involved with tablets, it just depends what their business is set up to do – whether they’re better served to offer accessories and peripherals, or if it’s offering actual devices. I think this is essential when you consider the sales of tablets against PCs – they have taken over.

“I think in some shape or form that most people should be involved with tablets, it just depends what their business is set up to do.”

Steve Bland, KMS Components

We all know that tablets are booming right now. But has the brand experienced growth in other areas of consumer electronics?
Definitely. Our own brand products are growing from strength to strength.

Yes, tablets have been amazing for us, but both audio and CCTV have been massive growth areas for us too, with products such as soundbars and portable speakers selling really well.

The last 18 months have all been about how we can create a value offering in the market without having to offer a product that was of low quality.

Rather than some of our competition, who continue to sell for the lowest price in the market and cut corners on quality, we heavily focus on offering a product that is one that people will buy, enjoy and have a great experience with.

Most people look at the tablet market and immediately think Apple and Samsung. But we’re now seeing consumers increasingly go for lower, competitively priced tablets. Do you see that as a driving force behind the TouchPad?
I think that’s one thing. At the end of the day, I still think consumers are very much aware of what they’re buying. If they do buy a product that’s cheaper, there’s always that line of ‘how cheap do I go?’ and I think there’s a happy balance of offering a saving whilst maintaining a quality product.

I believe we’ve done well by making sure we have had great content. We’ve also had great reliability and great quality on our products, which has lead to positive reviews from the press. Not many of our competitors within the B brands are getting that.

To give you an idea, our market share on tablets is already around nine per cent within the UK. So certainly, I’d say that makes us the largest B brand in the UK today.

You predicted last year that the Versus and CnM tablet brands would continue to gain traction, particularly in GfK’s channel-based sales charts. Why do you feel the channel has backed them?
I think it’s because if you look at what we offer our customers, we offer them choice. We offer products that are suited to their business and to the type of customers that shop with them.

We’re not rigid in our approach to the way we support our partners and we listen to what they require. If you look across all of our partners across the UK we have many brands.

We’re not about having one brand and giving limited choice.

Given how competitive the consumer electronics space is, do you believe that other brands are hesitant to enter the market?
Every market is very difficult these days. Unless you’re 100 per cent behind what you’re doing, you’re not going to succeed. I think the big message in the market always used to be ‘we’re a one stop shop, we do everything’ but that isn’t how the market is anymore.

If you’re going to succeed well at anything, you have to look very hard at those products and services you’re going to offer and be very defined on what you do, and I think that’s how we have been able to succeed.

“Every market is very difficult these days. Unless you’re 100 per cent behind what you’re doing, you’re not going to succeed.”

Steve Bland, KMS Components

We don’t try and do too much. It’s not about having everything; it’s about having the right thing for our customers and being able to make sure that the products that we do sell are great.

KMS was in attendance at this year’s Gadget Show Live. How important is it for brands to maintain a presence at these events in front of both consumers and the channel?
I don’t actually believe it’s overly important to do that. At the end of the day, these shows are great. They are great from the point-of-view that everyone can see who you are, what you’re doing and to be able to touch and feel your products. But I think there’s a whole lot more to doing well than that.

I think shows and similar events are becoming increasingly less important. I don’t think it would affect our sales in any shape or form by us not being at the show.

What does KMS have planned for consumer electronics throughout the year ahead?
The only thing we can really disclose right now is our mobile phone range.

You’ll see our products enter the market within the next couple of months and we hope to experience the same kind of success we’ve seen with our other brands.

But as with any new technology that’s out there, I’d like to think we would have some kind of involvement in it. We’ve always got our eyes out for the next big thing.

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