The eradication of the Home Computing Initiative (HCI) has claimed its first victim, with HCI VAR RedPC entering into voluntary liquidation last week.
Martin Prescott, managing director of RedPC, told CRN: “As a director of the company I had no choice. We knew HCI was going to end on 6 April, so I didn’t see the point in us hanging around like sitting ducks. We are only going to be the first of many casualties of HCI.
“We’ve managed to maintain a core of staff to service the HCI schemes that are still running. Of the 26 employees that work at RedPC, I’ve only had to let four go. I’m very positive about the future.” A creditors meeting will take place on 5 May.
Nitin Joshi, partner at Vantis, which is representing the creditors, told CRN that his clients are owed at least £250,000 from the company.
“The creditors are furious that there are already casualties because of a change in the tax law,” he said. “They are considering legal action, but it is a minefield. They are assessing which road to go through in terms of getting some return. At worst they will get nothing, and at best it will be minimal.
“There are at least another 15 companies involved in HCI that are at risk. I am in discussions with two other companies that will soon go bust because of the HCI fiasco.”
With news emerging last week that chancellor Gordon Brown has invited the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to submit proposals for a new programme that wouldn’t allow room for exploitation, some channel players claimed RedPC has acted in haste.
Vivien Quinn, director of the HCI Alliance, told CRN: “The CBI has been asked to put together a document to the Treasury to suggest a replacement scheme. We are encouraged by this glimmer of hope, and we are liaising with the CBI to provide industry expertise to the proposals. We would suggest taking the best bits of the HCI and making it work in a way that does what the government wants.”
However, other channel players said it is only a matter of time before more VARs felt the consequences of the HCI termination.
John Laity, marketing director at specialist HCI reseller OneCallPC, said: “For now, we have still got our staff here. However, at some stage we will have to start rationalising our business, which will mean job cuts. We need the chancellor to make a quick decision either way, so we can decide what to do.”
Carolyn Worth, external relations manager at Evesham, said: “We’re hoping for something, but there are so many rumours flying around that we’re not going to get excited until we hear something concrete from a government department.”
Mike Gammie, IT services development manager at VAR Misco, said: “We had to submit ideas for a replacement scheme to the CBI last week. If HCI did return, it would certainly have a much higher profile than before, and take-up would therefore be huge.”
A Treasury representative told CRN: “The chancellor has made it clear to businesses in the past few days that he wants to work with them over the coming months through new programmes, free from abuse.”
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