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Huawei special edition

Huawei MD: ‘Our 2017 focus is premium products’ Huawei’s London-based global P9 flagship launch in 2016 announced not just the device, but also the arrival of Huawei as a powerful force in the UK market. It was the year the manufacturer secured a presence in every major retailer and the year in which a unique strategy for the UK was introduced. In his first interview, Huawei UK Consumer Group MD James Jie reveals the details of this unique strategy and how the P9 changed the perception of Huawei in the UK consumer space. With 139 million devices shipped in 2016 including over 10 million P9 and P9 plus sales, Jie describes Huawei as being ‘in a very healthy situation’, citing strong overseas sales in Western Europe and an increasing average selling price. Detailing previous challenges and how the strength of the P9 overcame them, Jie says: ‘In the past three to five years it’s been difficult to prove our capabilities and develop co-operation with important players in the UK market, but the P9 has made a real difference. ‘The P9 is the most competitive product Huawei has released, with the Leica partnership in particular being very popular in the UK. I think the Leica-Huawei partnership is important, it’s based on the value we add to each other. For instance, Leica helped to establish Huawei with the UK audience, but it was the other way around in Asia. ‘I think this is similar to the relationships we’ve built with our channel partners in 2016 through the strength of the devices we’ve developed and the strength of our marketing partnerships with Scarlett Johansson and Henry Cavill for instance,’ says Jie, referring to the Hollywood stars of the company’s advertising campaigns. Having played a central role in the development of Huawei’s premium devices as head of the P series beginning with the P6, Jie explains the role of the company’s latest flagship. ‘The UK market is very concentrated, the big five take over 80%, especially of the

James Jie accepts Huawei’s Camera Phone of the Year win

pay-monthly tariffs. Our UK strategy is very clear and it’s the only country the strategy applies to. ‘In the UK we broke through into the market not as we had in other countries – through budget devices – but through the premium tier of devices. Our biggest seller in the UK is the P9, so the UK is a special market, so it must have a special strategy. This success of the P9 has laid the groundwork for Huawei’s future releases, the confidence is now there.’ Jie summarises the transformative impact in the UK of this premium handset first approach on Huawei’s place in the market as: ‘We’re no longer a challenger, we’re a contender.’ Huawei has good reason to be confident in the UK. The hyper-competitive Chinese domestic market sees all six of the world’s biggest international mobile brands play an active role, alongside a number of Chinese brands, yet Huawei is the only Chinese manufacturer to break out of the domestic market and make rapid progress overseas in western markets. Jie tells Mobile: ‘I think if you can be number one in China, in the most competetive and crowded devices market in the world, we can have the confidence of success elsewhere as well.’

Asked if the success of the P9 launch in Europe had changed the company’s approach with its upcoming Mate 9 release, the Huawei boss says: ‘I think what we originally thought is the Mate 9 is more adept for business users, so at the beginning we wanted to concentrate more on the P series, but what we’ve seen as it has been released across Europe is the Mate 9 selling out and winning top consumer awards – in Germany in particular.’ Elaborating on the business opportunities presented by the upcoming Mate 9 UK release, he adds: ‘Big-screen device sales have increased in Europe by 12%, so I think for next year there are opportunities, not just with the operator’s B2B and enterprise channels but also with Exertis. It’s a huge opportunity for us, our product is ready for B2B, the phablet is perfect for business scenarios, so I think there’s potential for growth for Huawei here through the Mate 9.’ Now stocked across the UK’s high-street estates, with additional exclusive devices in Carphone Warehouse and Three, Huawei built and grew its field marketing proposition in 2016 and intends to continue this in 2017. Jie emphasises the importance of building up the company’s field marketing team: ‘What we have found is that we benefit so much from even having just one territory sales manager compared to without one. It’s 10 times better and we must keep going with this strategy.’ He adds: ‘The store staff are so important for us, so to have them feeling confident and engaged is a real priority. Our training team in the UK is the biggest we have in the whole of Western Europe.’ With an increasing number of sales channels, revenues on the up and expanding levels of consumer awareness, Jie believes Huawei is well positioned to capitalise on its success in the UK. ‘We’ve proved we can break into the UK. My personal view is that in 2017 we will keep going, and we will be more focused on the premium products to build our brand around devices like the P9.‘ January 2017


Mobile January 2017  
Mobile January 2017