Perfect partners

Distribution deals aplenty have been finalised at this year’s Gitex as vendors and channel partners put the finishing touches to partnership agreements. Once again, the importance of building genuine in-country channels and appointing distributors with the skills, reach and local market knowledge required to support resellers on the ground was the driving force behind the deals.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  September 28, 2005

Distribution deals aplenty have been finalised at this year’s Gitex as vendors and channel partners put the finishing touches to partnership agreements. Once again, the importance of building genuine in-country channels and appointing distributors with the skills, reach and local market knowledge required to support resellers on the ground was the driving force behind the deals.

APC has confirmed the appointment of Al Jammaz as an in-country distribution partner for Saudi Arabia and Redington has bagged 3Com rights in the Kingdom. Printing giant Xerox confirmed the appointment of eSys as a regional distribution partner for its office business products, consumables and HP compatibles. Hard drive vendor Seagate also boosted its channel in the Middle East, naming Mindware as a regional distributor.

Pavan Gupta, general manager at eSys Middle East, said: “We have already done well with the Xerox products in India and hope to emulate that success in the Middle East. It is never easy to move from components to printers and consumables — it requires a different mindset.”

“For eSys it is all about expanding across the region, introducing more product lines and widening the business focus. It is not just about the quantity of business being done, but also the quality and the sustainability of that business. We also hope to announce a tie-up with a networking vendor soon,” he added.

For Mindware, the addition of Seagate adds yet another string to its vendor bow, reiterating the regional distributor’s ability to combine both volume and value products in its product portfolio.

Al Jammaz is starting to flesh out an impressive portfolio of best-of-breed products across multiple categories. Coupled with its impressive reseller breadth and operations throughout the Kingdom, it is little wonder that vendors seriously interested in building strong channels in Saudi Arabia are knocking on the Al Jammaz door. Al Jammaz also works with Cisco in Saudi Arabia and is on the verge of finalising an agreement with a major IT hardware vendor as well.

This year’s show has also underlined the fact that there are hundreds of new vendors arriving in the market looking to build up channels. As one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, vendors know that they need to get their Middle East channel strategy up and running as quickly as possible to truly take advantage of the growth potential that exists.

A slew of new components vendors from the Far East have woken up to the Middle East opportunity that exists and spent their time at the show meeting up with potential distributors and channel partners. Simultaneously, we’ve also seen software vendors from around the world looking to localise their products and build up their presence in the Middle East.

Indian accountancy software giant Tally Solutions has created some serious noise at Gitex this year and has already signed up hundreds of resellers in the region. Tally has 90% market share in India and you get the feeling that its slick business model and focus on the importance of the channel could produce similar results in the Middle East.

The Middle East channel is evolving fast and vendors are now asking resellers to add genuine value to the products they sell. The changing channel dynamic is squeezing out those companies still operating as pure boxshifters. The market has come a long way in the 12 months since Gitex 2004 and the pace of change shows no signs of slowing down.

For every company in the Middle East channel — whether it is a distributor, systems integrator, reseller, VAR, retailer, solutions provider or even an IT consultancy — there is one statement that still rings true: get big, get niche or get out. It’s that simple.

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