Kingston out to snare more Saudi distributors

Memory maker Kingston Technology is assessing potential distribution partners for its digital media products in Saudi Arabia as part of an ongoing strategy to strengthen its in-country presence in the Kingdom. The move comes just a fortnight after the company appointed its first indigenous distribution partner in the country.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  December 10, 2006

Memory maker Kingston Technology is assessing potential distribution partners for its digital media products in Saudi Arabia as part of an ongoing strategy to strengthen its in-country presence in the Kingdom. The move comes just a fortnight after the company appointed its first indigenous distribution partner in the country. US-based Kingston does not have an office in the Middle East but has a long-term affiliation with the region through a network of distributors. The Saudi market remains one of Kingston’s primary focus markets and it reinforced its coverage there earlier this year by adding Mindware to its ranks alongside Empa, Logicom, ITE Distribution and Tech Data. However, Kingston’s most significant move came two weeks ago when it appointed Al Jammaz as its first in-country distribution partner. “We needed to be present with a local distribution partner because this is what the market has recommended,” said Middle East business development manager Antoine Harb. “We had people complaining about stock availability because with our other distributors the product is being shipped from Dubai. We hope that business will increase now that we have added a local presence.” Kingston divides its business into four key segments including branded memory, value RAM memory, digital media, and OEM sales. In Saudi, the company has awarded Al Jammaz the rights to its branded memory and value RAM portfolio, but not its digital media products. “We didn’t sign them for those products because we felt that it didn’t have the expertise in that business,” said Harb, who added that the hunt has now begun for a specialist distributor to stock its digital media range. Harb admits that finding capable distribution partners in Saudi is complicated by the fact that Kingston’s MEA arm falls under its UK subsidiary. That means some product batches above a certain value that are shipped into the market require a Saudi Certificate of Origin. “It can take up to two weeks for this to happen and in the memory market that is too long because prices can fluctuate over that time,” said Harb. Kingston – which regards SanDisk as its main competitor and claims its Middle East business is growing at a rate of 20% a year — recently held its first ever channel briefing for Middle East partners in Dubai. The company boasts global sales of more than US$3 billion a year and offers a portfolio spanning 2,000 memory products.

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