Despite signing its first distribution partner for four years, Mitel will not be moving back towards a two-tier model at large, the vendor has claimed.
Last week the Canadian comms vendor revealed that it had signed Lancashire-based Trust Distribution to distribute the small-business-focused 5000 Communications Platform (CP) product. Trust becomes its first distribution partner since it axed Nessco, Westcon, Nimans, Crane and Rocom in one fell swoop in 2007.
Mitel sales director Robert Hutton told ChannelWeb that Trust will give the vendor badly needed coverage in the sub-50-user market. But the distribution signing will be a one-off, he asserted.
"The reason we haven't worked with distribution is that most distributors have taken on multiple products. We left distribution because it hasn't been the right way through to the IP telephony market," he added.
"But this is the right product, at the right price, with the right functionality for distribution. This is an extension to our strategy. The timing is right, we want to get much larger market share. The product is under-distributed geographically; we do not have the coverage in the UK or the reach that we would want."
Existing Mitel partners – including those already selling the 5000 CP – will maintain a direct relationship with the vendor. Mitel and Trust will work on targeted recruitment plans for each region of the UK. Hutton denied there could be a schism between directly handled existing VARs and new signings working through a two-tier model.
"If you look at the Panasonics, Avayas and Siemens, they have channels that are managed directly and channels that are managed through distribution," he added.
"Generally, the channel goes to the manufacturer because they are not getting the technical support that they want. With a company like Trust, their engineering and their technical support is superior to what they would typically experience with distribution."
Paul Hunter, Mitel brand manager at Trust, claimed Mitel addressed a different chunk of the market from the distributor's existing PBX franchises: NEC and Panasonic.
"We see Mitel more as a competitor to Cisco and Avaya," he added. "We are very excited because Mitel is recognised throughout the industry as a leader in IP telephony."
Trust will help ease VARs' transition into the world of Mitel by offering installation services until partners are sufficiently skilled on the technology, added Hunter.
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