The managing director of Compaq UK yesterday moved swiftly to counter fears in the channel, as he assembled the major corporate resellers to brief them about the PC maker's move into the direct market (as reported by VNU Newswire in January).
IBM will not follow suit, it asserted today, and said that its own IBM Direct experiment had failed because of channel conflict.
A source at the Compaq meeting said: ?Yesterday Compaq told us what it was doing. They called together the direct purchasing partners at very short notice. Joe McNally told us he wanted us to hear it from him rather than through the trade press. He said the company is setting up a telesales operation in Scotland called Expresso.?
The source said McNally told the assembly that the operation will start this September. ?Compaq will turn demand generation into order taking,? he said. ?That will be fulfilled by a single channel partner in exchange for a fee.? Details of who that partner will be were not settled, McNally said.
But Compaq will attempt to minimise channel conflict and avoid aggravating its channel by restricting fulfilment through the new unit to simple PCs, McNally told them. ?Complex orders will be passed on to a channel partner,? he added.
He sought to reassure his dealers that Compaq would not discount prices and so shrink their margins. ?Our channel has nothing to fear,? he said.
Mike Lunch, UK general manager of the IBM PC Company, said he was delighted that Compaq had finally revealed its plans. He said: ?This will distract them and destabilise the relationship between their business partners and themselves. This is a strategy IBM has tried and failed with IBM Direct. We closed that down specifically because of channel conflict. We tried to preserve margins for the channel and that made prices uncompetitive.?
Lunch added:?IBM is absolutely committed to selling only through the channel.? It is expanding its arrangement to allow its resellers and distributors to assemble kit in the UK. He said: ?The two pilots are Northamber and Computacenter. Northamber will have their first machine assembled by next week. This is one of many ways to fight the Dell model.?
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