Direct manufacturer Dell is making informal approaches to resellers resellers. in what is being seen as a move to re-enter the channel and take territory from Compaq.
Andrew Robins, business development manager at Compaq reseller PNC, admitted the company was negotiating with Dell. He said: 'Dell would like every Compaq reseller in the country to buy through it. Compaq is number one, Dell is number two or three.'
Barry Dodhia, marketing manager of Compaq reseller Hemini, said: 'We approached Dell 10 months ago but it wanted a commitment to shifting between #1 million and #1.5 million worth of kit every year. Two weeks ago, it approached us about a dealership.
'Dell is very clever - it revoked all dealerships saying it had enough dealers but in the last six months it has started to lose out to IBM and Compaq. Now it needs us, but it tends to change its policy overnight.
Six months down the road it could say, "sorry, management have changed its mind", leaving us in the lurch.
'By then, it would have taken the cream of our business, as once we get it into a large corporate, the corporate won't change just to please the dealer. We are telling Dell where to go.'
Tim Taylor, partner sales manager for Dell, denied that Dell was mounting a campaign to recruit resellers.
'We are not chasing Compaq business,' he said. 'I get this all the time - people claiming we have rung them when they have rung us asking for a partnership. We don't recruit dealers. We recruit Vars, but it is not well publicised and there is no active campaign to recruit them. We will approach a Var when a user wants to buy Dell and retain the reseller for provision of services that Dell cannot fulfil.'
David Petts, director of the commercial business unit at Compaq, commented: 'I hope a channel partner would view Dell as an unreliable partner.
'Purely from a model basis, if a partner was unhappy with part of our portfolio, I would expect Dell to explore another indirect partner, like HP or IBM.'
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