Distributor Sphinx CST is closing down Blue Channel, its dedicated IBM networking division, and has said that it will focus more on the software and services aspects of its business.
Blue Channel, which was named IBM Distributor of the Year in 1997 and 1998, will be slowly scaled down over the next three months. Customer contracts will be transferred to Magirus and Avnet, the two remaining IBM networking distributors.
Up to 30 staff are expected to leave Sphinx, but the company is likely to redeploy others within the business.
Mike Hatton, Sphinx's managing director, said it had been in discussions with IBM for some time about its contract. "We are developing our business differently to how IBM wants to develop its distribution channel. It recognises that size and scale are the keys to competitiveness, and where other businesses are consolidating operations across the US and Europe, we are very much focused on the UK and Ireland," he said.
Hatton countered reports that Sphinx had jumped before it was pushed. "It was a mutual agreement. Sphinx is keen to develop the software and services elements of its business and work more closely with networking vendor Cisco - a franchise the distributor won 18 months ago," he explained.
Computer vendor Acer is now the only dedicated hardware company left with Sphinx, but Hatton said the potential for integrating its own software products into Acer's hardware meant it was not looking to scale down relations.
Graeme Anderson, manager of IBM business partners, said: "IBM has had excellent relations with Sphinx over the years, but the companies are moving in different directions." He added that while Big Blue was unlikely to redistribute Sphinx's contract, "if a company presented a good enough case, our minds remain open".
Pieter Waasdorp, joint managing director of Magirus, said: "It is a clear sign that we are in a tough market. If a company is not really dedicated to high-end Unix distribution, there is no way of running a profitable organisation."
He added that Magirus was interested in taking on Sphinx staff who face being made redundant by the closure.
First published in Computer Reseller News
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