One of the UK's largest and longest-standing distributors, Steljes Limited, has gone into administration, CRN has learned, and buyers are now being sought for all or parts of the firm.
Staff were informed that the Bagshot-based audiovisual specialist is closing its doors just before lunchtime today after nearly 30 years in business.
A company representative, who confirmed the news to CRN this evening, said the distributor was unable to service its overheads following recent changes in its relationship with its largest vendor, interactive technology specialist SMART.
"I can confirm that, at around midday today, Steljes Ltd went into administration," the representative said.
"The administration was a required consequence of the business failing to meet the profit it needed to service, which was a consequence of us moving from a value to a volume model for our largest vendor SMART."
Today's announcement comes two weeks after more than 30 Steljes staff were put at risk of redundancy.
"Some of those people did go, which was a direct action to streamline the business to save costs and keep the business afloat. But unfortunately that wasn't enough," the representative said.
Alix Partners is the insolvency practitioner involved, the representative confirmed.
Steljes' demise comes after it reported an operating loss of £1.28m for its fiscal year ending 30 June 2015. Sales slowed by two per cent £53.85m, which it blamed partly on lower sales of interactive whiteboards.
In April, SMART – which some sources estimate generated two thirds of Steljes' sales – began supporting resellers directly in the UK and using distribution only for fulfilment.
Today's news affects Steljes Limited only, with other parts of the business, including Steljes Rental, unaffected.
Founded in 1987 by Nigel Steljes, the distributor was one year off celebrating 30 years in business.
Gerry O'Keeffe, UK and Ireland managing director at Exertis, said: "It is always sad to see a competitor fall by the wayside and it highlights the importance of always having a broad base of technology rather than being too dependent on one specialism. I am very sad to see a distributor of Steljes' technical prowess go to the wall and it is a sad day for all involved."
His sentiments were echoed by Alex Tatham, UK managing director of Westcoast, who said: "It is always sad to see an extremely good distributor in trouble. I hope they can resolve the situation for all the employees, suppliers and customers that they work with."
Since this story was published, Alix Partners confirmed this morning that buyers are now being sought for the firm.
"The administrator will be trading the company while they investigate for potential buyers for the sale of the whole or parts of the business," a representative for Alix Partners said.
Jane Ashworth, UK managing director at SMART, also issued us with the following statement:
"The news of Steljes' administration is certainly surprising, as we have worked with them for many years. We hope they can resolve their current situation and continue to support their customers, employees and partners, including SMART. But as we recently announced, SMART has been investing in the UK channel and working more closely with partners. We believe in our channel. The new support system we're building for the UK will ensure that we can deliver our innovative collaboration solutions to customers in both education and enterprise markets. We believe that the best way to do this is to give SMART partners and customers wider access to SMART solutions and experts, as well as the tools and support they need to succeed. Our new solutions and partnerships will allow us to start a new and prosperous chapter in the UK."
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