Hard drive vendor considers new Middle East unit

Western Digital is exploring the possibility of setting up a dedicated unit for its fast-growing branded products in the Middle East, according to the executive in charge of that business for the EMEA region.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  October 4, 2007

Western Digital is exploring the possibility of setting up a dedicated unit for its fast-growing branded products in the Middle East, according to the executive in charge of that business for the EMEA region.

The sale of branded products, which typically includes devices such as the ‘My Book' external storage line and other hardware that isn't integrated by OEMs, continues to be a highlight for the US-listed vendor. Branded revenues accounted for $230m during Western Digital's last fiscal quarter as the business more than doubled over the previous three months.

Soaring demand for external storage solutions has already prompted Western Digital to establish a branded products team with dedicated channel and marketing resources in Europe, and now the vendor is assessing whether more focus needs to be put on the business in the Middle East. Ex-Maxtor EMEA chief Didier Trassaert, who was appointed senior director of branded products EMEA at Western Digital earlier this year, says there will be developments.

"The next step is to be sure we have the appropriate organisation in place and that means we are looking at whether we need to hire a dedicated person to run the branded business - that is just a matter of time," he explained. "It is a management priority. We are staffing where the business is growing the fastest, where we already have an important installed base and the next step is the Middle East. We can easily imagine having a dedicated person to take care of this operation in the next few months. I need to make an evaluation of the additional efforts that we have to make to manage this area in the most effective way in terms of staff, marketing tools and budget."

Earlier this week, Trassaert made his first trip to the region since joining the company to meet with the regional Western Digital team as well as local retailers and distribution partners. But while Trassaert insists the company is committed to expanding the business, he admits to Channel Middle East that one factor potentially holding back its investment in the region is the lack of available market data.

"For the time being, one of the most important difficulties that we are facing in the Middle East compared with Western Europe is that we don't have serious tools to measure the size of the market, the total available market and our effective market share," he lamented. "We have grown and we will continue to grow in this business in terms of units, but we don't know if we are growing faster than the market itself. The main purpose of my trip [to Dubai] has been to gain a better understanding of the situation. But our results are in line with our expectations in the Middle East, which means we are selling much more units than we sold in the past quarters," he added.

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