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New Cellnet chief keeps eye on profitability

New Cellnet chief keeps eye on profitability

CEO and former CFO, Stuart Smith, looks to improve the performance of the distributor's remaining business assets

Profitability and customer service are priorities for Cellnet’s new CEO, Stuart Smith

Profitability and customer service are priorities for Cellnet’s new CEO, Stuart Smith

Keeping an eye on profitability and customer service are top of the list for Cellnet’s new CEO, Stuart Smith.

The ASX-listed distributor announced last week that founder and two-time CEO, Stephen Harrison, will step away from day-to-day duties after 15 months. Smith, who joined Cellnet 12 months ago as CFO, has now taken the reins.

Originally from South Africa, Stuart’s background is largely in the telco space and includes stints with Telecom New Zealand, AAPT and AAPT’s mobile division, Cellular One. He was most recently with a public investment and development company.

Since joining Cellnet in February last year, Smith has worked alongside Harrison to restructure the business and implement new processes and systems.

“We’ve been going through and focusing on the balance sheet. Clearly, the biggest thing was dealing with the unprofitability and making sure other parts of the business were not affected,” he said.

In November, Cellnet announced it would exit the PC and notebook distribution space and concentrate on higher-margin server and printer lines.

“The restructure of our operations is still proceeding and we’re focusing on the profitable areas of the business,” Smith said. “We’ve got a good team of people, and loyal customers and we are focusing on those and improving our performance.”

In its financial report for the year to June 30, 2008, Cellnet reported a $4.5 million loss, but now claims to have now raised $10 million in working capital to fund retail and telco growth.

While admitting the last 12 months had been a “steep learning curve”, Smith wasn’t perturbed by his lack of experience in IT distribution.

“At AAPT Mobile, we did do our own distribution and ran our own warehouse until right before I left, so I have had some experience with this previously,” he said.

No other management changes were planned, Smith said.


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