Sister distributors VIP and Realtime claim their merger will help them capitalise on the trend among large retail customers to consolidate suppliers.
The two outfits are combining their operations at the start of 2013 in a move that will see the long-standing Realtime brand name disappear from view and its founder Mark Reed depart.
VIP snapped up gaming components specialist Realtime in 2006 but has until now run it as an independent sales entity.
Realtime sales director Richard Marsden – who will become sales director of the enlarged outfit – said shifting customer and vendor expectations played a big role in the change.
"Certain major retail customers are going through a consolidation of their suppliers. This positions us to approach them as one brand with one offering," he told ChannelWeb.
Realtime's logistics and customer service functions were assumed by VIP's head office in Warrington in the wake of the acquisition six years ago but Realtime still employs 15 sales and marketing staff at its Huntingdon office.
Marsden (pictured) stressed the Huntingdon site will retain these core functions, but that VIP is looking at ways to divide responsibilities between the two locations to best serve customers and vendors.
"We want to combine the sales, product management and marketing side of business to give customers a better breadth of brands," he said. "A lot of the details have yet to be decided."
Since it was founded in 1989, Realtime has built a reputation as a specialist in the gaming enthusiast market. It works with just 10 manufacturers, often on an exclusive basis, while VIP has about 40 vendor franchises spread across the broader commodity components space.
Marsden (pictured) said the news had received positive feedback from vendors.
"VIP has a stronger portfolio set and merging them together gives us a compelling offer that will enable us to be in a dominant position in the PC components space," he said.
Expanding on the rationale behind the decision, Marsden said the needs of retail partners had shifted over the past 12 to 18 months, including the requirement to ship directly to customers.
"The market has changed dramatically and it makes sense to move forward together," he added. "Realtime has always been a very sales-focused business and VIP product managed focused. Bringing them together makes the perfect fit."
Paul Cubbage, managing director of competitor Target Components, said: "It is a shame to lose a long-standing name from the channel, but at the same time I think VIP have done well to keep the distinct Realtime identity as long as they have.
"On face value, it seems to reduce customer choice, but I am sure it is not a decision they have taken lightly."
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