As you were

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As you were

SPONSORED BY SAMSUNG: In an exclusive interview with CRN, Samsung's UK print boss Mark Ash says partners have nothing to fear from the business's impending change in ownership

Samsung's print head has urged partners to ignore the FUD and redouble their investment in its brand over the coming years as it joins forces with HP Inc.

Talking exclusively to CRN, Mark Ash stressed that Samsung's print partners will enjoy continuity of service for several years to come, despite the impending change of ownership.

Samsung announced it was offloading its print arm to HP in September for $1.05bn as part of its efforts to double down on its core business. At the start of November, it divested the unit and will sell a 100 per cent stake of the newly created company and overseas assets related to the business to HP, no later than September 2017.

"The reality is that we will be a Samsung business unit within HP for two years, so end users, resellers and distributors get that continuity of service"

Ash said Samsung partners will see "no discernible differences" until the deal closes and will enjoy continuity of brand for a further two years (for hardware) or five years (for supplies) even after the deal closes, while Samsung is run as a business unit within HP.

"When you see any changes, the first thing you get is FUD, and that is because people don't know what they don't know," he said. "There was a lot of confusion around the fact that people thought Samsung would be absorbed into that [HP] business as soon as possible and that we would become an HP unit that was integrated. The reality is that HP will honour the contractual commitments made by Samsung to its partners and customers, and avoid any impact on service parts, options and toner availability. All contracts, discounts and programmes previously agreed with customers and channel partners with Samsung will be honoured by HP, and these will remain in effect through to all previously agreed end dates. This includes all the product warranties, service parts supply deals and arrangements regarding consumables."

HP cited Samsung's A3 prowess as a key rationale behind the deal and Ash revealed that Samsung will become HP's Global A3 business unit, while also keeping its A4 laser printing business.

Samsung's UK print business has grown "exponentially" in the UK over the past four years, with A3 unit shipments rising tenfold, Ash (pictured) said. Investments made by UK partners in Samsung's print technology during that time will be protected, he vowed.

"We believe our Android interface is the best in the market so our partners that have invested in that app development wanted reassurance that that will continue, and that is absolutely the case," he said. Partners were full of questions in the wake of the initial announcement, Ash admitted, with many worried that Samsung might run down the production line. But he stressed that there is no reason to do that because HP has bought the whole business - people, processes and technology.

"Partners were also asking whether they will still get supply, and parts under the Samsung brand after the deal is finalised and, again the answer is yes, for five years after that point," Ash said. He pointed out that the size of the Samsung print business could double next year due to an OEM agreement it struck with HP earlier this year, before the acquisition was announced. But this OEM deal will not affect Samsung's sales, he stressed, adding that the two sets of products will each have a distinct look and feel.

"Neither party wants to lose the existing Samsung business and just turn it into HP, because you're not going to get any net new growth," he said.

Ash added that there is no pressing need for Samsung partners not currently working with HP to forge ties with the vendor. "It's clearly up to partners what they choose to do," he said. "My personal preference is that they continue to work closely with Samsung. HP hasn't just acquired the products. So come 1 November 2017, or whatever the closing date is, if they don't have a relationship with HP it's not as if they will have to learn new processes and build new relationships."

The deal has given the UK team a "new sense of purpose", however, Ash said. "We have achieved huge growth with a relatively modest headcount and are now knocking on the door of the big guys. To be going into a business that is predominantly focused on print is quite exhilarating."

■ This article was commissioned by Samsung. Visit www.samsung.com/uk/business for more details.

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