David Southworth, chairman of Skillsgroup, has spoken about the anguish the company suffered following its transition from dealer/distributor into a training and consultancy operation.
Speaking at Comdef 98, Southworth recalled the huge transition period for staff at Skillsgroup as the company changed its business focus. The operation changed its name from P&P to Skillsgroup in February 1997 to reflect its altered identity. The company then operated through three groups - training and consultancy arm QA; Acuma, which provides mid-range systems; and P&P Desktop, which provides desktop services.
Southworth admitted: 'I lost three quarters of Skillsgroup's board because of the change.'
There has been further speculation that Skillsgroup is looking to offload its distribution arm, PSL, because it does not fit in with the company strategy, as revealed in PC Dealer (13 May). Skillsgroup sold off its desktop operation in January.
While not commenting on the suggestions, Southworth admitted there was a conflict between distribution and skills business, claiming distribution was in 'a sorry state'. Southworth also revealed the company dumped two multi-million contracts - Marks & Spencer and the BBC - last year because they did not fit its profile.
He predicted there would be three emerging technologies on which resellers should concentrate - voice recognition, communications and smart cards.
But Southworth warned resellers not to try to dominate all the sectors: 'Success in one sector does not guarantee success in others. Understand where you are, but don't be all things to all men.'
In a warning to resellers, he stressed: 'Don't believe what manufacturers tell you. Vendors are full of promises. That is why we are left with stock on shelves.'
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