New Zealand's largest independent technology retailer, PB Tech, has pulled a three-day technology expo, citing disruption caused to the industry by the coronavirus.

Chief executive Gary Bigwood told the Herald that PB Tech Expo 2020, which had been scheduled for February 28 to March 1 at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, has been canned because travel bans have made it impossible for a number of exhibitors to attend.

The company still hopes to stage the event, possibly around in August, but it depends on how the pandemic plays out.

On a smaller scale, PB Tech Expo's problems mirror what has happened to the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, scheduled for February 24-27.


The MWC is usually the planet's second-biggest tech event after CES in Las Vegas, but this week a number of companies including Sony, ZTE, LG, Amazon and Ericsson have cancelled their exhibits, while others like Huawei have scaled back.

While some tech buyers in NZ have been already been hit by multi-week delays for specific items, Bigwood said there was no issue with the majority of products because channels in New Zealand were well-stocked with product (Bigwood is well-placed to know; before taking the reins at PB Tech this month, he was the long-time MD of the largest tech distributor, Ingram Micro NZ).

"Some plants are still closed, but some are re-opening," Bigwood said.

Overall, there have been mixed signals from the big tech and consumer electronics retailers across Australia and New Zealand.

JB Hi-Fi chief executive Richard Murray told The Australian it was too early to tell if China's coronavirus outbreak would interrupt shipments of TVs, hardware and other consumer electronics but warned there may be a limited supply of electronics parts if closures drag on.

Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey said there been some delays with supply chains in recent weeks, with delays of one to two weeks on some products - but also that delays out of China were usual at this time of year - and that his company had already stocked up in anticipation of the usual disruption caused by Chinese New Year celebrations.

Analysts and observers have found it hard to get an exact lock on the coronavirus' impact on manufacturing and assembly in China.

Market research firm Canalys said earlier this week that smartphone shipments in China could decrease by between 40 per cent and 50 per cent between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020 because of the coronavirus.


But giant contract-manufacturer Foxconn has so far - at least publically - only indicated a relatively modest hit from the outbreak, revising its annual revenue growth forecast from 5 per cent to 3 per cent.

The Financial Times reported on February 6 that a giant Foxconn plant in the Chinese province of Henan - the epicentre of the outbreak - was deserted bar a sole security guard (staff were due to return today).

Foxconn's Henan plant specialises in the iPhone 11 Pro, according to the FT.

However, the company has facilities dotted all around China and Apple has yet to announce any delays.

The company's NZ's website says an iPhone 11 Pro ordered today will be delivered by Friday.

A spokeswoman for Samsung NZ said the company had no stocking issues with any models.


PB Tech's Bigwood noted, however, that it all hangs on how long the pandemic lasts. If it drags on for months, with attendant factor closures, then product disruption would be inevitable, he said.