PC manufacturer Packard Bell NEC has begun market-testing its direct selling initiative in France.
The results of the test will determine whether the vendor will adopt the same approach in the UK.
The company said it had decided to test the initiative, NEC Now, in France, because there was no chance of channel conflict because it does not have any retail partners in that country. In the UK, the vendor?s key partners are Dixons Stores Group and the John Lewis Partnership.
Because Packard Bell NEC does not have a channel in France, however, questions have arisen about the usefulness to the UK market of any observations made from the French trials.
Graham Simons, European manager at Packard Bell NEC, hit back at such criticisms, claiming ?the user?s reaction to buying Packard Bell NEC computers direct is what we are interested in. If there is a high propensity to buy direct than we will sell this way.? He admitted that a direct sales strategy in the UK would cause unnecessary conflict and conceded Packard Bell NEC had ?a history of inconsistency regarding the channel?.
Until now, the company has denied suggestions that it intends to sell direct in the UK (PC Dealer, 8 July). But the move to introduce a direct selling model into Europe was seen by observers as a backtrack from the earlier decision to operate only within the US. The NEC Now venture was set up in the US market when parent company NEC injected $285 million into Packard Bell to support direct sales into the US corporate market in order to compete against the direct manufacturers.
James Bates, a PC retail analyst at Context, said the direct model was more buoyant in the UK than it was France and that Packard Bell NEC?s decision to try France before the UK were ?for reasons best known to itself?.
Infrastructure provider says international sales now make up 51 per cent of its revenue
Suzanne Chappell of TMS plans sailing venture after selling Oxfordshire-based TMS to acquisitive Chess
Withdrawal of credit insurance by some providers a 'reflection' of current challenge facing IT sector, according to MD Steve Soper
SMART's UK managing director joins Lenovo to boost SMB business