Hewlett-Packard (HP) has made drastic changes to its large format printer channel, culling more than half its resellers and replacing all five distributors.
Claiming that it wishes to put the task of selling its DesignJet range in the hands of specialists, the vendor has dropped Northamber, ETC, West Coast, Ingram Micro and Computer 2000 as tier-one partners, and in their place appointed Art Systems, formerly a sub-distributor, and RES.
Membership of HP's Perfect Partner Reseller Programme has been cut from 86 resellers to a core of 36. The dropped resellers will still be able to buy DesignJets through distribution.
Paul Burwood, HP's marketing manager for imaging and printing solutions, explained the changes. HP said: "We wanted distributors with a real knowledge of the large format market to help us develop it. We need people with a knowledge of CAD (computer-aided design) and high-powered workstations. We weren't going to get that from box shifters."
Burwood said the Perfect Partner resellers that HP retained have demonstrated their ability to add value to a niche sector of the printer market. "The programme offers generous extra margin for selling extra functions. Too many resellers were hanging on to the shirt tails of others which were doing a good job, so they had to go," he said.
David Thomas, managing director at Art Systems, said: "Service is what we bring to the party. We'll send guys on the road to work with resellers at the customer site. Services to this market have tended to be abysmal."
Loay Lawrence, marketing director at Northamber, said: "This is no big deal for us. Our high-end printer sales are solution-based and not tied to any one brand. We already have all the product we need from other suppliers such as Kodak."
There will be a hand-over period until 1 August, to allow the dropped distributors to offload stock.
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