Maxwell International Australia, distributors for Lowepro, Joby, Tamron, Velbon, Lexar and a number of other photo-oriented brands, is to close at the end of April, with distribution of Lowepro, Joby and Tamron to be handled by TNS Connect, a subsidiary of European-based private company TNS Distribution ‘a global distributor of consumer electronics and accessories for Apple products.’
TNS acquired Sydney-based CE distributor Connexus around three years ago, according to a CE trade website.
The new arrangements commence on May 2. Daymen, owner of both the Maxwell International business and the Lowepro and Joby brands,’has decided to concentrate on brand development and design’ and is exiting distribution in other parts of the world. A similar move was made recently in the UK market.
As mentioned, TNS Connect picks up Tamron as well as the Daymen brands. ‘Discussions with Maxwell’s other suppliers are currently under way to ensure continuity of supply, of which further details are expected in coming days,’ the press release stated.
Staff were informed by Daymen CEO Jeff Colton, this morning, Thursday March 31.
It’s understood the decision to exit distribution in the Australian market was made fairly recently. The style and handling of the announcement also indicates a degree of haste, with customers told that specifics of ‘the operational matters for supply, credits, service, accounts to ensure as smooth a changeover as possible’ not yet in place.
Maxwell has 18 employees, some of whom will be interviewed from next week for roles with the new distributor, who will also be entrusted with the marketing and sales functions for the Daymen brands and Tamron.
UPDATE, 7/2: It’s understood only a couple of staff from Maxwell will join TNS.
One of Maxwell’s key executives, marketing manager Brendan Lee, left the company and the photo industry in February.
While TNS Connect has a low profile in Australia, and until now has distributed little in the way of photographic products, John Swainston said the company has existing relationships with most of the photo specialist groups, including Camera Hous, cnceding ‘there are some gaps’.
He said that TNS would be setting up a photographic division and by picking up photographic brands and at least some current Maxwell staff will have ‘a lot of expertise which will be all photographic’.
‘We have partnered with DayMen for a number of years now in the supply of Joby products to the global retail network,’ TNS Irish founders, John McHugh and Ivan Eustace, are quoted as saying in the press release.
‘We are very excited to be able to expand our involvement in Australia in a market where Lowepro has been the leading imaging industry bag supplier for more than two decades.
‘We are delighted that Tamron has also agreed to our appointment, based on our strong commitment to a new photographic operation and their impressive technology strengths.
‘…TNS looks forward to meeting with many of the Maxwell team members in coming days and hopes to announce staff transfers for many employees,’ said Ivan Eustace.
The Maxwell name has been part of photographic distribution in Australia since 1959, and distributed Nikon in Australia until 2006 when Daymen established Maxwell International. Jeff Coultan noted in the press release that it has been ‘a continuously profitable operating entity’ in that time.
In a letter to customers Daymen stated: ‘Until the beginning of May, we remain open for business and intend to maintain supply until an agreed date for stock-take and stock transfer, as we plan this transition. A team of Maxwell and TNS management will now develop a Q&A on all the operational matters for supply, credits, service, accounts to ensure as smooth a changeover as possible. We will do everything we can to limit inconvenience to your business and your customers.’
John Swainston indicated it was probable that TNS Connect would maintain the third party warehouse operation currently used by Maxwell International.
Whether current Maxwell International director, Malcolm Pirie, will have a role in the mooted TNS photo products group is yet to be decided.
COMMENT: Is this going to work? It’s an interesting decision to appoint a European-based distributor with very little experience with the photo specialist channel, and photo specialist products in particular, to take over some of the more valuable photographic brands. Wish them well, but the opportunity cost to the existing photo industry ‘ecosystem’ is profound: There are a few good Australian specialist-focused distributors out there which would have a greater chance of success – more critical mass, if you like – if they had the opportunity to add some of Maxwell’s brands to their portfolios. Daymen hasn’t in my view done the Australian industry any favours. But we will see.
The other point to note is that TNS Connect’s core competency is in distribution. (Even though I’m told it has little in the way of warehouse space in Australia.) Daymen is apparently now expecting TNS to become a sales and marketing operation in addition to distribution virtually overnight. A browse of the TNS Australia website indicates it is all about logistics rather than marketing, advertising or the like.
Competing accessory lens, camera bag and tripod suppliers would probably see this as a good thing for their businesses – not so much for the industry as a whole.