Resellers are to be awarded slices of a lucrative £4bn contract from the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) to supply UK public authorities with IT products and services.
Although further details are still scarce, the total value of all available contracts is between £1.5bn and £2.5bn over a three-year period, or £4bn if the contract runs over four-years.
The contracts will be managed by OGCbuying.solutions, the purchasing arm of the OGC.
The contracts are divided into six available lots: VAR, network infrastructure, client devices, peripherals, IT consumables and software.
An OGCbuying.solutions representative said: "VAR is a category that customers have repeatedly told us they want to keep. We would not be surprised to receive more than 200 expressions of interest."
Lots one, five and six will involve between five and 12 VARs. The first lot is designed to provide public authorities, such as NHS bodies, with a one-stop shop for IT products and services. The sixth lot, software, also includes value-added service opportunities.
News of the contracts received a mixed reaction. David Bishop, a representative for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "The size of this contract will sway some resellers, but they need to weigh up the cost of tendering with the possibility of winning a contract."
Steve Muttram, managing director of distributor Portable Add-ons, said: "This is a great opportunity for some of our resellers and it will lead them into value-added services. Some smaller VARs may have an advantage because of niche market specialisation."
But Lee Simpson, public-sector client manager at Telindus, said: "This may marginalise smaller resellers and go in favour of the largest. The cost of bidding is also off-putting for some VARs."
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