AST is to break with CHS/Merisel and sign a new distribution deal with Ingram Micro.
Although both parties have described the split as an amicable one, Jan Lawford, director of vendor management at CHS/ Merisel, said that unsatisfactory sales of AST product had led to the decision.
Con Mallon, AST marketing director, said: ?We are mutually dissolving our contract with CHS/Merisel. AST would like to see this as an amicable parting and we wish CHS/Merisel all the very best for the future.?
Lawford highlighted AST?s poor corporate presence as the main reason for the termination of the contract.
?CHS/Merisel will be focusing resources on IBM, Compaq and HP,? she said. ?AST is not a leading brand in the corporate arena ? we need to work with vendors where we can get a high return on our resources.?
Accusations of a lack of brand awareness in the corporate arena were discounted by others in the channel. Martin Hellawell, general manager of corporate development at Computacenter, said that AST was the preferred choice of many corporate users.
?We have corporate customers who favour AST and they are doing well in the retail sector,? he said. ?It wouldn?t be fair to say they suffer from a lack of corporate awareness.?
On the signing with Ingram, Mallon said that the two companies were working together in the US and Europe and the UK signing was a natural extension of this. ?We felt the time was right for us to do business with Ingram in the UK ? distribution is the lifeblood of AST. The coverage we will gain from Ingram will be very valuable.?
Ingram vice president of marketing Andy Arthur said the deal was important in enabling the distributor to offer a greater choice to its customers. ?We see AST as an exciting and important strategic addition to our PC division portfolio and one which further strengthens our relationship with AST.?
Latest figures from Romtec show that AST has 5.7 per cent of the UK PC market.
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