The trend for consolidation in the channel continued last week, with the news that two Sage resellers have completed a £9m merger.
Cheshire-based Apex Business Systems (ABS) and Manchester's Orlando IT have merged to become Apex IT.
The new firm will offer both Sage and Microsoft financial software to SMEs and enterprises, along with hardware, networks, project planning, consultancy and training.
The new firm will be based at ABS' Cheshire HQ, which is being extended to cope with an influx of staff from the former Orlando IT. No jobs have been lost in the merger.
Tony Parsonage, managing director of ABS, said: "We have always committed ourselves to an ongoing investment in Sage and our customers, maintaining a consistently high level of support to our client base around the north west.
"The merger has allowed us to establish an immediate presence in the enterprise arena, where Orlando IT already had a considerable presence, supplying solutions on the Microsoft Navision platform."
Simon Cook, managing director of Orlando IT, said: "Apex and Orlando are both well respected and tightly managed firms.
"This merger gives us the opportunity to broaden our client base while strengthening and enhancing our overall offering."
A Sage representative said the merger was a sensible move. "The two firms complement each other, and we believe that our combined expertise and resources will give us a much stronger position in the market," she said.
John Linney, managing director of Sage VAR Objects Group, said: "The market is set for consolidation.
"Apex and Orlando will enjoy economy of scale, share the costs of marketing and services and grow their businesses more quickly. It certainly makes sense to me."
Analyst Bob Tarzey, service director at Quocirca, said: "This sounds like a sensible merger and a good pooling of expertise.
"It should be of benefit to both companies as they bring their different skill sets together.
"The market is going to come under pressure because Microsoft is entering the customer relationship management market, and both Siebel and PeopleSoft have targeted SMEs by setting up European channels."
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