The Friday interview: Robert Brennan, The Laptop Shop

26 Oct 200763 Views

The Laptop Shop has opened its fourth Irish store in recent weeks in Drogheda. Robert Brennan is the owner of the retail chain

Does anyone buy desktop computers anymore?
I thought that when we began this business we’d have to do a certain amount of desktop PC sales, but nobody seems to ask for them now.
There’s nothing a desktop computer can do today that a laptop can’t. You might buy a more powerful desktop computer for the same money but the advantages of a laptop are greater.
For one thing, mobility. Mobility is something you can’t put a value on. A really expensive desktop computer will just sit in a room.

Ireland is known for having poor PC penetration and poor broadband. Is broadband helping to boost PC sales?
Mobile broadband and HSDPA cards from 3, Vodafone and O2 are very popular with laptop owners.
People were buying laptops before mobile broadband and even fixed-line broadband.
Mobile broadband was a solution that finally came. They are proving popular with executives but also foreign nationals and students.
Price is the key factor behind buying decisions. 3’s mobile broadband product costs only €19.99 a month for 3.6Mbps (megabits per second). This is ideal for them, even when they’ve got free broadband in college.

What would be the fastest growing customer segment of your business?
I’d have to say foreign nationals, particularly Polish people followed by Brazilians. Many buy the laptops to use broadband to stay in touch with home. However, some of the criteria to sign up for broadband is too stringent.

In what way?
Many don’t qualify for contracts because they are not resident here long enough or may be considered a risk by the telecoms companies.
We would urge telecom companies to loosen the criteria. Irish Broadband and Clearwire have been lenient and they’ve done well selling to a transient population that’s just here for a year and can return the modem.
The pre-pay model works well in other countries and it would work brilliantly in Ireland.

How is the retail chain going?
We have four shops. One in the Dundrum Town Centre, one in Stephen’s Green and another in Santry. Our fourth opened in Drogheda recently in the Laurencetown Centre.

By John Kennedy

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