Channel firms are confident the big freeze will not leave a pothole in their first-quarter figures as the country’s infrastructure finally returns to normal.
The worst cold spell for 30 years forced many distributors and resellers to work reduced hours, prevented deliveries from reaching their destinations and stunted end user orders.
Distributors in Basingstoke were among the worst hit, with Computer 2000 (C2000), Micro Peripherals and Hammer among those forced to shut their headquarters early on at least one day.
C2000 managing director Andy Gass said: “We closed down early on a couple of days but still took business online and managed to ship every night – so although there was some impact I believe it was limited and I hope we maintained service levels to a decent standard.”
Alex Tatham, sales and marketing director at Theale-based Westcoast, said the distributor had to contend with two feet of snow during the peak of the white-out.
“A lot of staff made a heroic effort to get in and we managed to get most of our goods out,” he said. “Wednesday was the worst day, but due to extraordinary efforts, everything was shipped out by the Thursday and Friday and we are now up to date again. We are confident that targets will not be affected at all.”
Greater Manchester was another area badly affected earlier in the week.
Thanks to a well-timed press release, Manchester-based reseller ANS was
interviewed on BBC News 24 about how its Cisco unified communications system
enabled staff to continue working remotely.
But ANS chief executive Scott Fletcher admitted business volumes had suffered.
“Where it did have an impact was getting engineers on site and getting kit shipped,” he said. “We had one of our best-ever quarters in calendar Q4 and now we have effectively had three weeks off. Our staff are champing at the bit. Whatever we lost we will gain back due to their tenacity.”
Inevitably, the cold snap did not affect all equally, with Telford-based distributor EntaTech claiming it took share from those unable to take calls.
Sales manager Darren Perks at EntaTech, said: “We saw it as an opportunity to pick up additional business in geographical areas where we are not traditionally strong. So it has not had any impact on our numbers at all.”
Although insurer RSA put the cost of snow days to the UK’s economy at £690m a day, some distributors – including Nimans – reported an uptick in sales of remote-working technologies such as videoconferencing.
Graeme Watt, global president of Bell Micro, said: “We had an advantage in some respects in that we have multiple locations – if Leeds was bad, calls were handled by Chessington or Haslingden.
C2000 only has one office.” Grahame Smee, managing director of Basingstoke-based distributor Cohort Technologies, predicted that the channel could enjoy a rebound in sales.
“End users are the decisionmakers and if they do not make it in it has a
effect all the way up the channel,” he said.
“You just hope that when the melt comes, business catches up.”
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