TomTom dropped by its South African distributor


Core has been TomTom's exclusive distributor in South Africa for the past eighteen months or so, but decided to terminate the partnership two weeks ago, citing the Dutch company's "failure to honour its contractual obligations".

According to RJ van Spaandonk, the director responsible for Core Group's navigation business, the company had no choice but to terminate the relationship due to "TomTom's inability to supply a competitive product range and support it with appropriate marketing activities in southern Africa".

Core Group, who also represents Apple and Nintendo in South Africa, says it will ensure that all warranty obligations are honoured.

According to an IT Web report, Richard Fearon, group CEO of Avnic Holdings, the exclusive distributor of Garmin GPS devices in South Africa, said that the announcement has taken the industry by surprise. He pointed out that while there's only a difference of about 5% between Garmin's and TomTom's market share worldwide, Garmin has captured about 75% of the South African market.

"I don't understand why TomTom can succeed in other markets and not here," he said.

Despite the end of the TomTom-Core relationship, TomTom's website still refers South African customers to the Core Group.

Core has shrugged off the TomTom issue and announced a new deal with Griffin Technology.

Griffin supplies iPod accessories. Core was previously just one of Griffin's SA distributors, but after recent negotiations, the company has appointed Core its exclusive distributor and has expanded the region to cover all of Africa.

With the iPhone due for launch in South Africa very soon, the Griffin deal will likely be a lucrative one for Core.

Asked if the Griffin deal compensates for the loss of TomTom, executive Mark Goott said that it does.However, he pointed out that the TomTom and Griffin deals had nothing to do with each other; the timing is purely coincidental.

Meanwhile, TomTom is reportedly looking for another SA distributor, and plans to open "a dedicated South African organisation to further grow sales and expand market share in SA."

MoneyWeb reports that TomTom'snew South African organisation will be headed by Joost Jetten as regional manager for SA & the Middle East, who is negotiating to establish a new distributor relationship.

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