The COVID-19 pandemic has a huge impact on the world economy, and the smartphone industry is also affected by it. The analysts showed that the smartphone market declined in Q1 2020, and also mentioned that the same effect could be shifted to the second business quarter too. The pandemic probably forced some changes in the retail part of the smartphone business since the stores are closed in many countries, and offline smartphone sales are temporarily halted.
This reflected negatively on many sales promoters in India that were hired to boost the sales of Nokia branded smartphones. Nokia Mobile hired Indian agencies to mobilize a large workforce to help spread the word about Nokia and boost the sales of Nokia smartphones there. Some employees shared the contracts online, and those are typical for this kind of job and can be easily terminated by the agencies with the 15-day notice prior to the termination of the contract. The termination notices started coming with the first days of May, and everything would go unnoticed if India wasn’t struck by massive SARS-CoV-2 spread, which caused the government to shut everything down temporarily. Nokiafanss did a nice report on this which you can read here.
In times of great uncertainty, when people are concerned about their wellbeing and wellbeing of their loved ones, to get the notice about the contract termination must be hard for the employees of such agencies. Also, according to Nokiafanss, the number of sales promoters being fired could easily be as high as 5000, even though they couldn’t confirm the exact number. Not only that the timing was wrong, but the Government of India provided guidelines for the companies which should not fire their employees in this critical situation caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
We reached Nokia Mobile local representatives in India to share a comment on the situation in India, and we give you their statement in full:
“HMD Global is committed to serving the interests of our consumers, our partners and the communities involved in the selling and servicing of our products. The company has, since inception in India, placed importance on the retail strategy and continues to do so. Our vision for and commitment to India remains unwavering. We are consolidating our field force agencies across the country into a singular agency to ensure better national alignment with market requirements.”
They also commented on the headcount being laid off:
“While we do not share headcount numbers, we can confirm that the quoted headcount referenced by you is inaccurate.”
We are all witnessing a lot of job losses in the world, and I have the same experience with close friends that lost their jobs due to the pandemic. To me, this seems like a strategical shift in the way sales are going to be organised in India, which is still the most important market for Nokia Mobile.