Mobile electronics retailer The Strathfield Group announced to the Australian Stock Exchange on Tuesday that it had purchased Sydney-based handheld retailer and software developer Eworld for an undisclosed sum.
With the 100-store-strong SGL being the largest cell phone supplier in Australia, its acquisition of Eworld is an endorsement of the opportunities emerging in utilising handheld computers for mobile communications and remote computing.
Though only retailing out of one shop in Sydney, according to Steve Hall, managing director at Eworld, the most strategic part of the investment by Strathfield is the software development operations of the company.
"We have a lot of skills in Windows CE, Palm and other handheld operating systems and have become one of the core developers in the Southern Hemisphere," Hall said. "Strathfield has recognised that an ability to be able to provide strong support in this area as being critical to the mass adoption of this technology."
Hall said there are obvious synergies between what Eworld has been doing and the 750,000-plus customer base that Strathfield has been selling mobile phones to. The potential for handhelds to be married to phones to replace other tools and processes is "unlimited", he said.
"Handhelds offer the potential to leverage existing investments in IT infrastructures within enterprises and an organisation like Eworld can provide a broad range of add-on services to achieve that," Hall said.
Coming under the big and powerful SGL umbrella will allow Eworld to fast-track its expansion plans with plans for a national presence in motion. The first expansion site will be in Melbourne with an opening date stated by Hall to be "almost immediately".
"We see enormous potential for us as a result of this announcement," he said. "The resources and corporate infrastructure of SGL will facilitate our ability to deliver customised solutions to customers all over Australia."
SGL has been incrementally increasing its stake in the IT retailing industry since listing on the ASX last year through acquisitions and has now obviously pinpointed handheld computers as a revenue and customer base growth opportunity.