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Day 5 - IFA International

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  • September
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Trade News Time Management Means Efficiency Seeing what’s being exhibited as important as meetings THE DEAL MAKERS Leading Korean CE retailer Hi-Mart is on the lookout for smartphone accessories Hi-Mart Doo-Hwan Choi Team Manager, New Products Smartphones are the new craze among consumers in Korea, according to Hi-Mart’s Team Manager, New Products, Doo-Hwan Choi Darty’s Director of Consumer Electronics Philippe Viniane is at IFA with his team of buyers, once again attending an event that he regards as unmissable. He tells IFA International why… [ Interview by Richard Barnes ] IFA is so big these days, and so much more international than it was when I first went, and that means that pretty much everyone is there, so of course my team and I have to be there as well. In addition, there are the more predictable reasons why it’s a must, like the fact that it’s well placed for pre-Christmas acquisitions. It’s a very efficient way to spend time out of the office, because we get to see so many people in such a short space of time. And that in turn leads to us being faced with decisions which spark some very relevant discussions about strategy, and clearly these wouldn’t happen if we weren’t there. How many meetings do you have each day? I try to limit them to five because I like to be able walk around and see what’s happening, and given the amount of exhibition space, you really need quite some time to take in what’s on offer. And then there are people that you bump into by accident as well; you just never know who you might meet, and you can never have too many contacts, so that’s an important thing for Darty as well. How many meetings do you arrange in advance? Do you ever just drop by? I arrange everything in advance, and I very rarely drop by on the off-chance of a meeting because I wouldn’t expect anyone to have the time to see me. But if I saw a really great deal, or a stunning product, of course I would try to see who was available, at least for some sort of preliminary discussion. What are you seeing as the biggest trends this year, judging by the sales in your stores? Currently, the hot items at Darty are large screen TVs, headphones, and cordless music playback systems. “It’s a very efficient way to spend time out of the office, because we get to see so many people in such a short space of time.” TV’s, washing machines and refrigerators were the most popular products at leading Korean CE chain Hi-Mart – until this year, that is. “This year there has been a sharp rise in the sales of mobile phones,” said Hi-Mart’s, Doo- Hwan Choi. “And smartphones account for over 90% of those sales.” Hi-Mart has some 350 stores across South Korea as well as an online presence, the stores accounting for 90% of trade. At IFA – the first for Choi – Hi-Mart is on the lookout for audio products, particularly DJ mixing desks, as well as accessories for smartphones. Choi said he has been able to use IFA to research the global market. “I regularly meet with Samsung and LG, the big Korean players, but IFA is an opportunity to meet with some of the smaller companies from Korea, and the rest of the world,” he said. “I have had a number of meetings, some of which will lead to deals when we get back to Seoul.” In terms of market trends, Choi said sales of PCs have been down this year. “Our customers are moving over to tablets and smartphones instead,” he said. “But when Widows 8 comes out at the end of the year, we expect an upturn.” Of most interest to Choi at IFA so far, have been two TV products: Samsung’s technology that allows two people to watch two different programmes on the same TV, and glasses-free 3D TVs from Panasonic and Philips.” Founded in 1987, Hi-Mart controls around 35% of the CE retail market in Korea, ahead of Samsung Digital Plaza. www.ifa-international.org IFA International • Tuesday 4 th September 2012 41

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