MOSCOW. Feb 19 (Interfax) - Cellphone seller Svyaznoy expects to see some growth in the sale of smartphones and tablets this year.
"We anticipate modest market growth in 2014 and view the market with more optimism than do some of our colleagues," the Svyaznoy group's chief Michael Tach told Interfax. "We think the money from sales of smartphones and tablets will increase," he said.
Svyaznoy, which by its own estimate commands first place in the sale of smartphones in Russia and second in the sale of tablets, intends to increase its tablet market share to 17%-18% in monetary terms in the next few years from 13% in 2013.
Russia's biggest cellular retailer, Euroset (MOEX: TDEV), said recently, however, that it expected a drop in 'dumb phone' and smartphone sales in both monetary and per-unit terms this year, for the first time since the crisis year of 2008.
Svyaznoy does note a drop in consumer confidence, but thinks it a temporary thing, Tach said.
In 2013, Svyaznoy's like-for-like (LfL) store sales increased 12%. They were up 5% in January and to this point this month, which is down year-on-year but is positive, considering the market situation in general, Tach said.
Svyaznoy is prepared for a market slowdown. The period in which the chain was expanding has come to a stop, and the company is putting its efforts mainly into the development of its services instead of the opening of stores, he said. And the company is not in need of raising additional financing, he said.
"Our chain has reached optimal coverage. It is now not as important to 'be on every street' as it is to provide the buyer with the purchase via different channels - via the Internet, call centers, electronic catalogs. We are concentrating on the further development of multi-channel sales and on the development of special formats. For example, mono-brand stores and shop-in-shop," Tach said. Svyaznoy is looking to double the mono-brand chain CStore, which sells Apple products and which numbers fifteen outlets now.
Tach did not rule out the possibility that prices for 'gadgets' will rise due to the slumping ruble exchange rate, but did say that "the fluctuation of cross exchange rates is not a key factor in this case." "A majority of producers have Russian warehouses, which makes it possible to plan deliveries [in good time] and avoid direct dependence on exchange-rate fluctuations. Moreover, prices will likely be influenced by the level of competition on the market and consumer activity," he said.
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