FDC unlikely to be the last distribution change for Lenovo

Regional GM admits that the future of at least two of its distribution partners is hanging in the balance

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  September 28, 2008

PC vendor Lenovo has increased the number of distributors it has serving the Gulf by extending FDC’s geographic coverage, but admitted that the future of at least two of its other distribution partners is hanging in the balance.

Given that its products are carried by Aptec, Distributech, GBM, Jumbo IT Distribution, Logicom and Redington, the appointment of FDC – its partner for Iraq – has surprised those who expected a reduction in Gulf distributors following the arrival of a new regional management team earlier this year.

Khaled Kamel, regional general manager at Lenovo, insists the company intends to maintain relationships with all distributors for the time being even though Aptec and Jumbo have both scaled down their business with the vendor in recent months.

While Kamel acknowledges that some distributors may no longer consider Lenovo their strategic PC vendor, he has pledged that any decisions on the continuation of partnerships will not be taken before the start of its fiscal year next April.

“If Jumbo wants to place an order they can and our system will accept it and ship, there has not been a cancellation of contract,” he said. “But Jumbo has its own strategy. They are very successful with us when it comes to the corporate business, but they don’t see themselves adding so much value in distributing the product.”

He continued: “We haven’t stopped anybody from doing business with us. Aptec, for example, has not been active for a while, but their contract is still valid and they are also welcome to place an order with us and we would ship.”

Kamel says Lenovo is committed to helping all distributors grow over the next six months, while also bedding down the FDC relationship. “FDC has gone very aggressively into the Saudi market and invested heavily, which convinced us that they were serious about the Lenovo business in Saudi Arabia,” he explained. “In the UAE they have also shown us indications of their capabilities to cover untapped markets that we were not talking to before and bring those resellers that they know and we don’t to the Lenovo world.”

Speculation in the Saudi channel had suggested FDC’s appointment was due to the vendor splitting from Redington. However, Kamel believes those rumours surfaced when resellers were temporarily unable to source stock after Redington put an order on hold. He calls the incident a “misunderstanding” that related to certain clarifications requested by Redington in the wake of former transactional business head Ahmed Khalil’s departure three months ago and stressed that normal business had resumed.

Despite the loss of Khalil, Lenovo has been making progress with its quest to strengthen regional headcount by appointing two staff that will join its Saudi operation this week to drive SMB sales. Both have experience of the regional channel, with one joining from Redington and the other from Almasa. In the UAE, meanwhile, it currently has offers out for a country sales manager and a corporate reseller boss to replace Junaie Gul, who has been promoted to services and warranty manager.

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