Security vendor SurfControl has revealed it is a step closer to signing its first UK distributor.
After months of industry speculation, the vendor told CRN earlier this year that it would be making the switch to a two-tier model (CRN, 6 March). The firm initially said a distributor would be appointed by May, but this has been revised until the end of June to coincide with the end of the firm’s fiscal year.
In an exclusive interview with CRN, Patricia Sueltz, who joined SurfControl as chief executive last year, said the channel is very important to the vendor.
“I believe that we are a better company for working with the channel,” she said. “It is our job to make sure we give it the right materials so we can both serve customers to the best of our advantage. We have seen other companies getting into channel conflict. We do not intend to do that.
“In the past year in the US, we have gone from having 62 per cent of our new billings coming through the channel, to 68 per cent, along with 80 per cent of all new business. In Europe that figure is 95 per cent of business coming through the channel. We are pushing everything through the channel. Going forward, this is about making sure we work hand in glove with partners that can add value to our customers.”
She added that distribution is important to the vendor, which has been in talks with as many as five distributors in the UK over the past few months, including Bell Micro-products Europe, Sphinx, e92plus, Wick Hill and Fusion, a distributor based in the Middle East that is keen to launch in the UK.
Mukesh Gupta, managing director of distributor e92plus, which already works with SurfControl on selected product lines in the UK, said he is keen to become a full distribution partner for the vendor.
“We are distributing some of SurfControl’s products already, and it is going well,” he said. “We are very keen to partner with it in the long run, because it will give us more credibility, both in the channel and as a whole.
“We were expecting SurfControl to make a decision earlier than June, but I suppose it makes sense to coincide with its year end.”
Gupta added that the vendor would be wise to stick to one distributor to start with.
“SurfControl is coming out of a one-tier model, and taking on more than one [distributor] will make it difficult to manage,” he said.
Since Sueltz’s arrival at the vendor last year, when she replaced Steve Purdham as chief executive, SurfControl has gone through a series of structural and staff changes, with the final alterations to its EMEA management structure announced recently. James Pattinson was appointed as UK country manager, Alastair Martin as EMEA marketing director and Fiona Coughlan as senior director for channel sales EMEA. The whole EMEA team is led by Harnish Patel, senior vice-president EMEA.
Sueltz said: “We went through our first restructure in December, which affected 20 per cent of our employees, and we replaced 16 to18 per cent of them. Practically our entire office has been turned over.”
She added the firm is in “a wonderful cash position”, and admitted that she “would not rule out” an acquisition.
“However, our bottom line is to continue shipping the technology that our customers need, and enabling our resellers to add value,” Sueltz said.
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