Q1: What sectors and product categories were you forecasting to see the most growth from in 2020 before COVID took hold, and how has that changed since?
Mark: As we went into 2020, we were expecting to grow by around about 8% overall, and we're currently on a run rate of about 8.3%. Our business is looking in pretty good shape at the moment.
One of our main customer groups is the OEMs, which represent a significant proportion of the electronics industry. Small to medium electronics manufacturing service (EMS) companies are a strong group for us, and from a customer volume perspective, hobbyists and students also are a good market for us.
Despite our planning and expectations for certain customer groups and sectors, like many other companies, the year has panned out slightly differently because of COVID. The impact has so far resulted in our large-volume EMS customers being far more active than we expected and has driven that side of our business up 31% so far this year. The small to medium EMS sector are also up 10% over our forecasts, as is our hobbyist and student business which is up 15%, all very positive signs for our business as a whole. The OEM customer group, which is a significantly large group for us in terms of numbers of customers, is up 3% which is still a respectable growth considering how the industrial markets have been hit globally.
So, overall, from a sector and business standpoint, we're pretty lucky and fortunate to be in this position.
What is interesting is the roller-coaster of demand of how things changed as COVID took hold across the world. The year started off really well for Mouser, and then around Chinese New Year (which traditionally sees a slowdown), it started to hit deeper as China went into lockdown. Europe and the Americas suddenly latched on to what was happening in China, resulting in a huge wave of business. We had one third down, two thirds up, then suddenly China bounced back while the other two-thirds hit harder times.