IBM is approaching UK office supplies dealers in an attempt to expand its reseller channel and reverse the stagnation that its PC operation is facing.
The decision coincides with a development within the channel where office supplies and stationery dealers have begun to step into the breach left by traditional PC resellers, as they move away from box-shifting in search of service-based revenue.
The move by IBM represents a push into an area almost exclusively exploited by only one other PC vendor - Hewlett Packard.
According to Integra, a consortium of office supply and computer dealerships, IBM will be addressing a conference of Integra members in July to entice them to sell the vendor's hardware.
Bob Davies, executive director at Integra, told PC Dealer: 'We are intending to bring in hardware to all our office supplies dealers.'
Integra has 360 members, including 67 traditional PC dealers. The group was formed in 1997 and had a turnover last year of nearly pounds 400 million.
Bill Hill, small business manager at HP, warned that the negligible margins in selling PCs could make office supplies dealers' entry into the market difficult.
'Getting into hardware is very much a natural progression, but good business people will soon come to realise that they will have to enter into services to achieve higher margins.'
Derek Jones, trading director at Integra, admitted that 'margins could be an issue', but it depended on who the dealer was selling to. 'An office stationer selling to a particular database over 15 to 20 years has an opportunity to bring in PCs with its printers. Margins become secondary when sold on the back of high-margin products,' he said.
IBM declined to comment.
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