Bigben is the company to turn to for all things related to smartphones, and the company prides itself on the in-house development of many of the items. The product range spans very basic items, like phone cases and screen protectors, to more high-end products, such as power banks for recharging your phone on the go.
“We have our own brand name of products and work with fashion designers, such as Gauthier and Christian Lacroix,” says General Manager Michel Bassot. Some production takes place in France, and last year, the company sold three million products – out of 13 million in total – that had been manufactured domestically.
“We work with exclusive producers, like Thomson, for whom we are the sole seller on the French market,” Mr. Bassot says. “They make our cables and energy products that allow us to cover the connected products segment. We also offer more sophisticated products in this sector, including drones, virtual cameras, and safety and security products.”
Other areas of activity comprise products for the audio sector and platforms for the games industry. Bigben even publishes its own games and develops the corresponding hardware for them.
“Digital transformation plays an important role in our product development,” the General Manager points out. “More and more products are connected and smart, and that affords us completely new opportunities. We’re constantly creating new synergies.”
As a former supplier of telephones, Bigben had SFR, Orange and other telephone operators as its customer base. These operators still account for 50% of the company’s turnover, but the customer profile has been diversified to include sports chains, electronics chains, home improvement centers and supermarket chains.
“We earn 15% of our turnover through smaller, independent sales points,” Mr. Bassot adds. “Our sales team visits these boutiques on a regular basis.” Branches elsewhere in Europe allow for international sales.
To prevent competition with its own customers, Bigben does not have its own online shop and is active only in wholesale. Since being founded by Alain Falc 35 years ago, Bigben has grown to become the market leader in France.
In 2011, it acquired the company Modelabs, parts of which were sold in March 2016. Today Bigben is a stock-listed company with its shares divided between its founder and investment funds. Bigben Connected is a 100% subsidiary of Bigben Interactive and has locations in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, Italy and the USA.
There are also purchasing and sales offices in Hong Kong as well as a quality, safety and auditing unit in China. “We’ve benefitted greatly from our integration into our parent company,” the General Manager highlights. “We can use its sales channels and offer a more comprehensive range. Customers can get everything they need from one supplier, which no other company can offer.”
Bigben Connected contributes about 90 employees to the group’s total staff of 300, and the subsidiary accounts for a substantial portion of Bigben Interactive’s 205 million EUR annual turnover. Despite a history that stems from one major market, Bigben has a three-pronged approach to its future.
One aspect is the potential of its products for further development. “Our current range is constantly being developed,” Mr. Bassot says. “The market is dynamic, and there’s always something new.”
In the near future, Bigben will be introducing a drone with a consumer-friendly price. “We focus on products that are affordable for everyone,” the General Manager continues. In addition to the drone, Bigben is also working on virtual reality glasses, new licensed products and new energy products.
Chips for locating cars, pets and people, in particular children or people with special needs, will be available, as well. These chips work in 28 countries to offer improved safety and security. Personal health devices, such as scales and blood pressure gauges, are another area of development.
The second prong involves optimizing the company’s processes and organization, especially regarding logistics for faster deliveries. Bigben already has a central warehouse and provides next-day delivery for 92% of its customers’ orders.
“As is, some of our customers automatically receive follow-up orders through our ERP system,” Mr. Bassot says. “As a result of our automated processes, we have more time for training, development and marketing activities for our staff. We turn the costs and time saved in our processes into added value for our customers.”
Growing sales is the third area. “For about a year now, we’ve had a sales office in Hong Kong,” Mr. Bassot says. “We plan to expand it, increasing our geographic potential. We also want to penetrate new sales channels.”