In what must be one of the shortest tenures in the history of supply chain management, TNS-Connect has announced it is closing down its Photo Division, consisting of the Tamron, Velbon, Lowepro and Joby brands formerly handled by Maxwell International.
TNS-Connect was named as the new distributor in April and was fully operational by July. It will cease taking orders on December 7.
The TNS-Connect Team emailed a letter to its customers this week to announce the radical change of direction. The text of that letter follows:
It’s with deep regret that effective 9th December, 2016, TNS-Connect will be closing the Consumer Electronics and Photo Open Distribution divisions of the Company. Other operations of the company will continue. Until that time all brands currently distributed by TNS-Connect will remain doing business as normal, though some limited shortages may occur. The closure of these two divisions results from a decision to refocus the business internationally and concentrate on European operations, based out of the company’s Irish headquarters.
TNS-Connect is working with its key suppliers to find alternative distributors. In the case of the Photo Division those discussions are well-advanced. Announcements will be made over coming weeks. The Company will do its utmost to try and ensure minimal disruption over this busy pre-Christmas period. Shipments are inbound on Velbon, Tamron and Lowepro will still arrive prior to the closing date and will be shipped to you on arrival. No backorders can be taken for goods either not in stock when ordered or confirmed as being in-transit at the time of your order. Stocks of JIVO and Golla are due in this week. JIVO is a TNS-Connect owned brand and continues.
Your TNS-Connect representative will do their best to work with you to fill gaps, or suggest substitute products where stock is depleted.
There will be no wholesale dumping of product to protect your margins and the orderly transition to a new partner for the brands that TNS-Connect currently represents.
For the Photo Division specifically, all Warranties will continue to be honoured, and all Tamron service and warranty work should continue to be sent to Hartlands in Perth. Warranty replacements will still be provided where needed, as usual. Contact for Hartlands: (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Orders may still be placed with TNS in the normal way UNTIL WEDNESDAY 7TH DECEMBER. The credit and accounting team will still be in place until February next year for collections, credits etc. Details of returns processes will vary by brand. We will keep you posted.
On behalf of all the staff and suppliers, we again apologise for this disruption. As soon as we can, we will announce new distributors for our brands, which should start to be decided by the last week in November. TNS-Connect will do its utmost to keep you supplied through this changeover.
The TNS-Connect Team
PhotoCounter sought more detail from TNS-Connect, and we publish the written response in full below:
PC: The letter makes reference to ‘some limited shortages’ – are there any brands or specific popular SKUs which you can recognise as being vulnerable?
TNS: The shortages are in some Joby products and some entry level shoulder bags in Lowepro. Joby is currently able to fill about 60 percent of current stock, but a large shipment arriving before end of November will clear 70 percent of the back orders, leaving around 15 SKU’s out of 200+ out of stock or short. There are five Tamron SKU’s currently out of stock and on order for delivery in the first week in December. Velbon has some gaps and stock unlikely to arrive until December 8 – 10. Even if it’s that late, we will ship as once the brands move to other parties there will inevitably be delays by transition, Christmas and New Year. So ordering before the end of November for First of the month delivery makes good sense to ensure brand continuity and to avoid un-needed disruption.
PC: There is reference to the discussions with new potential distributors, and a hint something might be announced at the end of November. Can we expect an announcement prior to Christmas?
TNS: TNS is hopeful new distributors for all four of the photo brands will be announced before the end of November with transition starting mid-December or even earlier. Naturally it is up to the manufacturers to make those choices and it will be they who will announce those changes, together with their new Australian partners. TNS will do its utmost to assist any new distributors. TNS is led to believe there are excellent local partners being interviewed with whom all the retailers do business currently.
PC: How many staff are with the Photo Division and will they all be made redundant on this development?
TNS: The photo staff who joined the company in May and June have all been given notice and will cease work at TNS on or about December 9. Adam Wilson (sales director) will be continuing until just before Christmas, along with some central admin staff who will then also leave around December 21 or so.
PC: With the CE and Photo groups closed down, what of TNS-Connect remains in Australia?
TNS: TNS-Connect runs its European operations out of Ireland, including a global IT backbone. The remaining business involves TNS’s JIVO brand and Mobility accessories sold to leading phone maker retail operations, which is run out of Australia but transacted through East, Central and South-East Asia. This is a long established logistics and fulfilment business on behalf of multiple vendors and requires local capabilities. The required staff are already on the TNS team in Australia
PC: Is NZ impacted?
TNS: There is no impact on New Zealand as all sales operations into NZ ceased earlier in 2016. There never was a staffed subsidiary organisation in NZ.
PC: What happens to Warranty under circumstances like this?
TNS: TNS warrants the goods it sells, and has honoured the warranty of goods Maxwell sold before it. For retail readers that means there is really no change and each brand’s warranties will either be honoured by TNS-Connect or the new distributor. So there should be no hesitation that retailers will be supported, but it is admitted there could be delays during the transition period, once brands move to new homes. Fortunately failure rates are very low for all the brands.