Northamber has launched a new Solutions Division it says will dispense with the need for SMB resellers to source networking, storage, security and server gear from four different distributors.
Talking to CRN at the distributor's 2015 Expo today, strategy director Alex Phillips said the new arm – which has 12 staff to begin with – represents the latest step in Northamber's evolution from a broadliner to a so-called narrowline distributor.
Under the banner "Connect, Protect, Store", the Solutions Division counts WatchGuard, Fujitsu, Tandberg and Symantec among its key vendors. Two new vendor signings designed to bolster the division were announced today in the form of Webroot and iboss.
"Some of the smaller SMB resellers are having to go to four different distributors – one for networking, one for storage, one for security and one for server," Phillips said. "That means four delivery charges, which if you're a small reseller in a competitive market, that's eroding margin you don't need to give away.
"Where Northamber comes into it, with our Connect, Protect, Store solutions team, is we can offer one single delivery and one single credit line to manage, to de-cost and simplify resellers' lives."
The new team will focus on networking, storage and security, three areas Phillips said are "macro-trends we believe in".
Although Phillips said Northamber has a "legacy of selling solutions and one of the most experienced salesfloors in the industry", six new staff have been recruited to bolster the team.
Phillips claimed the distributor is also approaching solution sales from a different angle from other broadliners such as Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Exertis.
"Ingram and Tech Data have nothing like this," he said. "They are very strong in fulfilment, but that's a different business model. What we're focusing on here is leading and bleeding-edge brands and we can offer a lot more support through things like our configuration centre and our training centre, as well as our in-house credit team. While historically, Northamber is a broadliner, over the last year or two we have narrowed our focus and have talked about narrowlining. The next evolution is to build a solution team around that narrowline ethos."
AIM-listed Northamber halved losses and returned to sales growth in the first half of its fiscal 2015 and full-year results are due in November.
Phillips (pictured) said its success in picking battles carefully would be a key factor in Northamber's financial progress.
"We're looking at where we can add value," he said. "There are obviously a lot of categories where the international broadliners come in and use their huge scale, and that's not an area we can capture any value-add. We can do it in certain categories in scanning, but solutions is where we feel we can better monetise our investment."
Besides Webroot and iboss, several other new vendor signings were unveiled at the show, including Asustor in the NAS space, LearnPad and Genie World in the AV education market, Stratos, Y3K and Creative.
Phillips highlighted Kodak Alaris as another key signing.
"We are the largest distributor in the UK for scanners and Kodak Alaris reinforces our place as the distributor to go to for scanning and imaging," he said.
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