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RS CEO takes a bullish view of Asia

Posted: 13 Jul 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:RS components? Asia electronics industry? bullish Asia RS?

Ian Mason
Mason: We are long-term investors here [in the Asia-Pacific].

"We are a hypermarket for engineers," Ian Mason, group chief executive of RS Components, described his company during yesterday's interview with me. Starting in 1937 from a lock-up garage in North-West London, the company today claims to be the top catalogue distributora category where it sees Digikey, Premier Farnell and Mouser as the other major players. The company carries a range of over 450,000 products from about 2,500 suppliers and ships over 40,000 parcels every day from 16 worldwide centers.

The current recession has affected the business, Mason said. However, "there's no change in the strategy," the RS Components executive said. "We will always keep stock at hand. The short-term market does not worry us at all." In fact, the company announced late June that it now has the largest stock of Texas Instruments devices with 11,000 parts available.

While Mason agreed that the manufacturers' lack of appetite for stocking inventory plays into the distributor's favor, the company's focus on R&D to production to maintenance requires a different view. The company focuses on a smaller volume, "high-service" model, which Mason defines thus: "All catalogued components are in stock, which allows us to fulfill over 90 percent of the orders the same day. If you order today, we will ship it the same day and you could receive it tomorrow."

Asia-Pacific growth story
The Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region, according to Mason, recording about 10 percent of the group's $1.57 billion revenue and growing at 16.8 percent. RS, which started South Asia operations in 1995, now operates in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, and employs about 1,000 in the region.

Mason sees a continued migration of the electronics industry to the region in the face of the downturn. His company remains bullish on the Asia-Pacific due to the following:

? Major equipment manufacturers moving to the Asia-Pacific to be closer to customers here;
? The region's important role in assembly and test of semiconductor devices;
? Rapidly growing R&D in China; and
? Thousands of electronic design engineers graduating every year in Asia.

"We are very excited about the Asia-Pacific region," said Mason. "We are long-term investors here, and we've had a very successful growth here."

Major product and technology areas include "environmental space, such as wind power," the RS executive said. "Medical is doing very well, and aerospace/defense is a pretty good sector. There's quite a broad range of sectors and the good news for us is that we supply products to every industry."

RS Components has over the last few years stepped up its Web channel offering. Starting with the launch of its Website in 1998, the company gradually built up its e-commerce functionality. "About 40 percent of our sales are via e-commerce," said Mason. "And that's worldwide. In Japan, it is 70 percent."

Mason attributes the high e-commerce use to the fact that engineers tend to be Internet-savvy. And with a growing number of young engineers in Asia, he sees a growing importance of e-commerce.

- Vivek Nanda
EE Times-Asia

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