Northamber has brought its Complex IT unit back into the bosom of the distributor and is no longer handling Cisco kit.
David Hennell, commercial manager at Northamber, said Complex IT has relocated from Weybridge to Chessington and will no longer use the Complex IT name but did not rule it out in the future.
"We realised it would be better to have the unit up with our enterprise sales teams and server group to have cross-fertilisation of sales opportunities," he said.
However, an email sent to suppliers from Andy Hoyles in purchasing at Complex IT and leaked to CRN, stated that the unit has closed.
"It is my sad duty to inform you that Complex IT has ceased trading... due to a decision by our parent firm Northamber to pull out of dealing in the Cisco broker channel," the email said.
But Hennell said Hoyles had misunderstood the situation and that there was "no way" the distributor would close the unit, because "business was booming". He added that the unit is looking to recruit additional staff.
Complex IT is no longer selling Cisco kit, Hennell said, but is pushing 3Com and other vendors with which it has direct relationships. He admitted it has no direct relationship with Cisco but said it bought its Cisco kit from UK sources.
"We have never bought grey kit and have never imported Cisco kit from abroad," he said. Hennell called for vendors to define what grey kit is once and for all and dispel "the smoke and mirrors".
Complex IT experienced teething problems in 2001 when Cisco's brand protection team investigated it for alleged grey market trading. Cisco defines grey kit as "products for which it cannot assure source or quality".
John Donovan, Cisco UK channel manager, said: "All of our partners are contractually obliged to buy from Cisco official channels. We are always trying to ensure our customers are getting the kit they expect."
Jeremy Davies, senior partner at analyst Context, said: "The grey market is a real problem, but end-users are not prepared to pay high prices. Vendors are trying to make margin and are under pressure to do different price deals in different countries."
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