Conflict Prone PVR Maker Topfield, Involved In Another Spat
Hargreaves a 26 year veteran at Sony has been credited with revitalising the Topfield brand with several retailers re-ranging the product after Hargreaves took over.
In the past Topfield has churned through sales staff, with one buyer claiming that Hargreaves was used by the Korean Company to rebuild relationships with retailers and that he is now being replaced with a “less expensive” executive who will manage the new business that Hargreaves has bought in.
Last week Hargreaves was due to have a meeting with Harvey Norman who is Topfield largest customer but he cancelled at the last minute.
12 months ago the Company was forced to restructure their business in Australia after the South Korean Company took over the sale of their products in Australia after another dispute with their previous distributor Toppro.
This was not the first time that Topfield has fallen out with employees or distributors.
At the time Topfield Korean claimed that the decision was made because “Of a dispute about outstanding payments” with Toppro.
A letter sent to retailers and sub distributors in June 2014 asked both retailers and sub distributors to not make payments to Toppro Pty Ltd.
A separate letter sent to Toppro Pty Ltd threatened the Company claiming that if they continue to engage in commercial activities involving Topfield products after the 16th of June “civil and criminal action” will be entered into”.
The issue was settled out of Court.
This is not the first time that Topfield has found itself in a fight with a distributor. In 2008 the Korean Company ended up in the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre in a fight with Jai Kemp and the Digital Products Group.
In August 2007 Topfield suddenly announced that it was appointing another distributor in Australia and that it still considered DPG to be one of its distributors even though DPG was handling Beyondwiz at the time which was seen as a competing products.
DPG challenged Topfield claiming that they were Topfields sole distributor, they even produced a “Sole Distributor Certification” which the Complainant had issued to it in 2004.
At the time DPG also owned the registered name Topfield in Australia and the web domain www.topfield.com.au.
The Panel ruled against Topfield granting Jai Kemp and the Digital Products group the rights to the name.
David Hargreaves has refused to comment however he did confirm that is no longer employed by Topfield.
A senior Harvey Norman franchisee said “Hargreaves was a good operator, he bought stability to the account and he understood what was needed to grow the business. Topfield are not a big marketer so it is important that the in-store marketing that was put in place actually worked. Prior to Hargreaves being appointed there was a lot of problems with this account”.
ChannelNews understands that several marketing and product initiatives presented by Hargreaves to Korean management at Topfield were rejected.
Topfield currently does not have a Netflix app running on their range of set top boxes and PVR’s.
According to one buyer Hargreaves approached both Netflix directly and Topfield management in an effort to get a Netflix capable box into the Australian market.
Topfield management have not commented prior to this story being published.