An analyst has highlighted an "immediate" 100,000-unit refresh opportunity for Midwich and its resellers on the back of the distributor's signing with interactive display vendor SMART.
At the start of June, SMART appointed Midwich to work alongside incumbent Westcon, which itself only came on board in March as part of a change in distribution strategy at the vendor.
SMART's switch to a fulfilment distribution model was cited as the trigger behind the collapse last month of its previous sole distributor, Steljes, but Colin Messenger, senior consultant at analyst Futuresource Consulting, believed it could be a fruitful partnership for Midwich.
SMART currently has 300,000 interactive whiteboards in UK schools, according to Messenger, who said this provides a "fantastic base" of customers for Midwich and its resellers to upsell to SMART's latest flat panel technology.
"That is 300,000 projectors and 300,000 customers that might want to move to interactive flat panels," he said.
"100,000 of those boards are over ten years old now, so that is an immediate focus."
SMART, which last month agreed to be acquired by Foxconn for $200m, recently switched to supporting UK resellers directly to seed the market for its Kapp IQ flat panel. Messenger said 82 per cent of interactive displays sold in the UK are now flat panels, rather than whiteboards.
Although SMART's new distribution model means Midwich's role will be limited to fulfilment, Jane Ashworth, SMART's UK and Ireland managing director, said the distributor will be helping SMART understand partners better.
"We have appointed Midwich because of their service excellence," said Ashworth.
"Their sales teams have a great reputation in the market and they have very good relationships with many of our partners in the UK. While they are a fulfilment model, they will also be working hand in hand with us to understand our partner base and the requirements of those partners."
Collapse of Steljes was 'disappointing'
Steljes said its collapse was ultimately a "consequence of us moving from a value to a volume model" with SMART, which sources say generated £35m of the Bagshot distributor's £54m revenues. Steljes' administrator is in the process of selling off its inventory, with Midwich believed to have acquired the SMART stock.
However, Ashworth (pictured) claimed that it was "business as usual" between the vendor and distributor until Steljes went into administration.
She said: "It was very disappointing for us to hear they had gone into receivership. We found out at the same time as everybody else in the market. It is obviously disappointing for them as well, given their history within the AV market."
Ashworth claimed the transition has been "really positive" for former Steljes partners selling SMART stock.
She explained: "Many of these partners already have historical relationships with Midwich, and understand the excellent level of service that they provide. These partners now have a choice as to who they can purchase from, whether that is through Midwich or Westcon."
Both Midwich and Westcon will recruit partners for SMART, but the vendor's priority is to focus on existing partners, Ashworth said.
"Our priority in the UK is to ensure our value added resellers who have given us years of business and loyalty are managed in a standard that they expect," she said. "We are absolutely focused on ensuring that those partners are well managed and that this transition with Midwich happens with as minimum an interruption as possible to their businesses."
Mike Bacon, managing director of education-focused reseller and SMART partner Academia, said his firm used to work with Steljes, but that it is "business as usual" as it transitions to Midwich.
He said: "[The Steljes administration] was a shame. It was a well-run business. It was one of those unfortunate twists with the way the market shifts. I think they probably had too many eggs in one basket having just one main vendor.
"We are still trading with SMART's products; it is business as usual for us. We will be partnering with Midwich; we already partner with them on other parts of their portfolio and we are very happy working with them on an ongoing basis."
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