While most of us are happy to cast aside our old or damaged mobile phones, GreenTech Distribution makes money by unlocking their residual value.
It buys unwanted phones — old, faulty or new — from insurance companies, service providers and retailers. Then it either resells them — usually back into Europe’s open marketplace for mobile devices — or salvages components to repair other handsets. It serves customers who need to dispose of spare stock while complying with EU regulations on waste electrical equipment, and it earns money from refurbishing the phones.
Co-founder and chief executive Richard Crawley, 43, honed his skills while working as sales director at Data Select, the mobile phone distributor founded by Peter Jones, one of the entrepreneurs who appears on the BBC show Dragons’ Den.
Crawley set up GreenTech Distribution — originally GreenTech Recycling — in 2010, after the telecoms distribution business he owned, RP Europe, began receiving requests to recycle handsets. He was joined at the helm of the new venture by Lucky Anand, 47, a serial tech entrepreneur, as co-founder, investor and chief operating officer for GreenTech.
The company, based in High Wycombe, has grown its sales by an average of 248% a year, to £48.9m this year, in tandem with the boom in smartphones — and their short lifespan. Apart from recycling and wiping data from handsets, the firm also distributes to national retailers, and fills shortterm gaps in supply by importing new phones from other EU countries and adapting them to the UK market.
As the company has grown it has diversified, buying stakes in businesses in Poland and the Netherlands. This international presence has helped it to win a deal to provide an in-house repair service in more than 40 Samsung stores across Europe. Such success gives Crawley and Anand the confidence to forecast sales of £65m next year.
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