Stone Group is being backed by software giant Microsoft in the system builder's first foray into the refurbished space.
As reported by ChannelWeb earlier this month, Staffordshire-based Stone is launching the Encore second-user programme. The aim is to provide the education market – particularly primary schools – with affordable machines.
Per-unit prices begin at £99 and all systems come with a new Microsoft operating system licence. Stone will also provide a 12-month warranty and hardware support package.
Mid-range systems will retail at £129, with higher-spec machines offered for £149. Stone expects to sell about 4,500 units before the end of this year. James Bird (above), chief executive of Stone Group, claimed refurbished kit will prove popular as schools seek to stretch their budgets.
"With government initiatives to support IT procurement for schools in deprived areas also coming to an end, it is more difficult than ever for schools to provide students with sufficient access to IT," he said.
"Encore presents an opportunity for schools to take a mix-and-match approach to IT hardware procurement. Where a primary school may require a large number of new PCs, but has a very limited budget because of public sector cutbacks, the Encore programme should allow them to still purchase the full number of PCs they require by providing a mix of new and refurbished models."
Bird also stressed the importance of Stone's relationship with Microsoft and the genuine operating system licences provided with each Encore machine. He claimed that some refurbished IT suppliers install counterfeit software, leaving end users at risk of a hefty fine.
Mark Wilkinson, EMEA partner manager for Microsoft Authorised Refurbishers, said: "Microsoft has appreciated the significant issues in selling to the public sector, where strict procurement processes are in place to protect both the integrity of the IT systems and their reputation. We are therefore extremely happy to have developed this relationship with Stone so that its scheme will allow educational establishments greater access to low-cost, refurbished PCs."
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