Hewlett Packard (HP) is launching a nationwide scheme with supermarket chain Tesco to supply PC hardware and peripherals.
A total of 124 Tesco stores will carry HP products, after a trial scheme between the two companies over Christmas proved successful.
Most of the products carried will be low-end Pavilion PCs loaded with Windows ME software, which will help HP avoid conflict with its business-to-business reseller channel. Ingram Micro will handle distribution.
David Barnby, general manager at HP's UK consumer business division, said the move could mirror the expansion of the mobile phone market.
"Customers previously went to a specialist shop to buy a mobile, but as the technology has got more pervasive, you can buy them in petrol stations. People want to buy PCs where they do the majority of their shopping," said Barnby.
PC vendors in France, Germany, Portugal and Spain all run similar schemes.
HP will set up dedicated technical support lines for Tesco PC customers, and a number of Tesco branches plan to train specialist staff.
"Tesco tested a similar idea with Siemens and Fujitsu two years ago, but buyers were not comfortable with the technology," said Chris Jones, senior analyst at Canalys.com.
"Consumers are more likely to be buying their second or third PC by now and are more confident about purchasing it away from a dedicated computer store to save money. It could well be a viable way of expanding the UK distribution channel."
Nat Hart, managing director of HP reseller Landscape, said he was convinced that HP would not take business away from its channel through the new scheme.
"Dixons, Curry's and PC World are Tesco's targets here, not the channel. While people still see HP as a printers-only company, this scheme will raise awareness. Resellers should not be overly worried," he said.
First published in Computer Reseller News
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