Pissed! Why the UK is so Upset with Norbain

By: John Honovich, Published on Jul 10, 2012

The pitchforks are out in the UK, with hordes of integrators and manufacturers angered at the UK's most prominent distributor, Norbain. If you are outside the UK, you might have missed this but it is a very interesting case study in the evolution of the surveillance industry. In this note, we examine why so many are upset with Norbain.

Background

Norbain, whose annual revenue has historically been ~$200 Million USD, suffered a major shakeup, going into administration (similar to a bankruptcy restructuring in the US) and then being sold to a new company. Most importantly, these events confirmed that Norbain had been losing significant amounts of money and had built up unsustainable debts. Basically, their business model was broken.

Manufacturers Impacted

Many manufacturers are major debt holders to Norbain and are unhappy as they will lose a lot of money as Norbain cannot / will not pay a significant portion of those debts. From what we hear, it is a tense negotiation for many manufacturers as both sides have a lot to lose.

While manufacturers may not get paid for their outstanding debts, manufacturers also have power to no longer do business with Norbain. Indeed, Dedicated Micros has voided all warranties for all products bought via Norbain - an unprecedented move that demonstrates how serious this situation has become. Other manufacturers may change their terms and / or restrict product availability to limit their exposure to future Norbain issues or as retailiation to being screwed by Norbain.

Integrators Impacted

One of Norbain's biggest historical advantages was its generous credit terms for integrators. Indeed, many of our contacts referred to Norbain as ‘the UK's bank' for the security market. The attractive financial terms certainly helped win business and helped cash tight integrators.

Our contacts tell us that those terms are now being tightened and Norbain has become much more aggressive in getting paid on past due bills from integrators.

We see a number of important impacts on integrators:

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

  • For those that owe Norbain money, expect pressure to pay this back. Integrators that are financially weak may be significantly hurt by this.
  • For new purchases, expect less generous financial terms that may make Norbain less attractive to buy from.
  • Product availability will likely be impacted. Integrators should carefully check which manufacturers are still available and how long it will take to get products under Norbain's new condition.

What Caused This

We are too far removed from the local UK market to offer our own opinion. However, we have heard the following as potential factors:

  • The UK economy and overall security market remain weak.
  • Norbain was too slow to IP and too committed to old school analog installers.

The Future

While some of the anger is due  to Norbain's heavy marketing expenditures over the last few months even though they were deep in debt and in trouble, much of the anger is about how this will change the UK security market. While Norbain confidently trumpeted that they are back to ‘business as usual', many in the UK market disagree as manufacturers and integrators affected by the fallout struggle to adjust. Given the bridges that are being burnt and the probable reductions in financing options and product availability that will come from this, it will be interesting to see if Norbain can maintain its prominent position in the UK market.

On the other hand, a brighter future may be ahead for the UK's security market. Given that Norbain has been selling products for less than cost over the last few years, eliminating this may force out weaker players (both manufacturers and integrators) strengthening the survivors in a healthier ecosystem.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Integrators

Top Ways Security Integrators Improve Their Careers on Sep 03, 2019
With DIY products expanding and the future of integration debated, how do integrators stay sharp so they are not left behind? 180+ integrators...
Security Integrators Outlook On Remaining Integrators In 2025 on Aug 22, 2019
The industry has changed substantially in the last decade, with the rise of IP cameras and the race to the bottom. Indeed, more changes may be...
Biometrics Usage Statistics 2019 on Aug 13, 2019
Biometrics are commonly used in phones, but how frequently are they used for access? 150+ integrators told us how often they use biometrics,...
US Government Ban of Dahua, Hikvision, Huawei Takes Effect Now on Aug 13, 2019
The 'prohibition on use or procurement' of Dahua, Hikvision and Huawei products and 'essential components' take effect today, August 13, 2019, one...
Proactive CCTV "Only Affordable Video Archiving Solution" Profile on Aug 12, 2019
Proactive CCTV is claiming to offer "the only affordable video archiving solution on the market", reducing the storage typically required for H.265...
Responsibility Split Selecting Locks - Statistics on Jul 22, 2019
A heated access debate surrounds who should pick and install the locks. While responsible for selecting the control systems, integrators often...
Mobile Access Usage Statistics 2019 on Jul 18, 2019
The ability to use mobile phones as access credentials is one of the biggest trends in a market that historically has been slow in adopting new...
Poor OSDP Usage Statistics 2019 on Jul 09, 2019
OSDP certainly offers advantages over decades-old Wiegand (see our OSDP Access Control Guide) but new IPVM statistics show that usage of OSDP, even...
Maglocks Usage Statistics 2019 on Jul 01, 2019
Maglocks divide access control specifiers perhaps more than any other component. Many are concerned about life safety codes, but others cite...
ADT Eliminating Acquired Brands, Unifying Under 'Commercial' Brand on Jun 14, 2019
ADT is eliminating the brands of the many integrators it has acquired over the past few years, including Red Hawk, Aronson Security Group (ASG),...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Directory of 68 Video Surveillance Startups on Sep 18, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Uniview Prime Series 4K Camera Tested on Sep 18, 2019
Is the new Uniview 'Prime' better than the more expensive existing Uniview 'Pro'? In August, IPVM tested Uniview 4K 'Pro' but members advocated...
US Army Base To Buy Banned Honeywell Surveillance on Sep 17, 2019
The U.S. Army's Fort Gordon, home to their Cyber Center of Excellence, has issued a solicitation to purchase Honeywell products that are US...
Vivotek "Neural Network-Powered Detection Engine" Analytics Tested on Sep 17, 2019
Vivotek has released "a neural network-powered detection engine", named Smart Motion Detection, claiming that "swaying vegetation, vehicles passing...
Schmode is Back, Aims To Turn Boulder AI Into Giant on Sep 16, 2019
One of the most influential and controversial executives in the past decade is back. Bryan Schmode ascended and drove the hypergrowth of Avigilon...
Manufacturers Unhappy With Weak ASIS GSX 2019 And 2020 Shift on Sep 16, 2019
Manufacturers were generally unhappy with ASIS GSX, both for weak 2019 booth traffic and a scheduling shift for the 2020 show, according to a new...
How Cobalt Robotics May Disrupt Security on Sep 13, 2019
While security robots have largely become a joke over the last few years, one organization, Cobalt Robotics, has raised $50+ million from top US...
Panasonic 4K Camera Tested (WV-S2570L) on Sep 13, 2019
Panasonic has released their latest generation 4K dome, the WV-S2570L, claiming "Extreme image quality allows evidence to be captured even under...
ASIS GSX 2019 Final Show Report on Sep 12, 2019
IPVM went to Chicago for ASIS GSX 2019, with many exhibitors disappointed about traffic and the exhibitor schedule changing next year. However,...
Installation Course - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 12, 2019
Last Chance - Register Now - September 2019 Video Surveillance Install Course. Thursday, September 12th is your last chance to register for the...