Unity has accused Ascend of channel stuffing and margin erosion following the vendor's decision to can its agreement with the distributor for failing to provide adequate focus on its product line.
According to Phil Holcroft, UK managing director at Ascend, a meeting took place on 16 June with Jens Montanana, executive chairman at Unity parent Datatec, which acquired the distributor last year, to discuss its relationship.
But Holcroft said: 'The amount of business didn't justify the relationship continuing.'
He added: 'At the half-year point it became apparent that Unity, compared to our other partners, didn't have the same focus.'
He denied, however, that the decision to can Unity was connected to last month's signing of Landis as a UK distributor. Ascend had stated there would be no change to Unity's contract until September after speculation erupted over its future (PC Dealer, 27 May).
But Richard Chilver, managing director at Unity, said: 'Ascend was signing up distributors with the objective of putting as much stock on the shelf as possible.' He added: 'This resulted in margin erosion on a product which had always been attractive for the opposite reason.'
Neil Ledger, managing director at Data Connect, said: 'Ascend's channel strategy is ethical and indirect. There are no problems.'
Holcroft said problems had begun in February when an Ascend product manager, whose position had been funded by the vendor, left Unity and was not replaced.
But Chilver asserted: 'It was not a case of not looking for anyone, but just the nature of the market.'
Chilver said the distributor is on a 60-day notice period to finish the business. 'We will wind the business down in a sensible manner, but we have a problem with the way Ascend is restricting its channel.'
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