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AIM calls for FSC truce

Saudi distributor willing to resurrect partnership with Fujitsu Siemens.

Saudi distributor Advanced Integrated Media (AIM) has met with Fujitsu Siemens to discuss the possibility of rekindling an in-country distribution relationship that collapsed last year.

AIM ceased ordering notebooks from FSC towards the end of the third quarter, citing grievances over the support it received during a period of heavy over-supply earlier in the year. But following a five-month standoff, AIM insists it is willing to bury the hatchet with Fujitsu Siemens and reactivate the partnership.

"We want to get back with them again, but it must be under certain conditions," explained Bassam Abu Baker, group general manager at Riyadh-based AIM. "We know the market better than anyone. We were the ones who started FSC in Saudi and have invested a lot in that. But we have closed the file and now want to start a new chapter if we manage to have certain assurances. The ball is in their court and we are waiting for feedback."

It is understood that AIM still has an official contract with FSC, but the pair have not been working together since the distributor halted all orders of mobile PCs from FSC last September.

AIM alleges it did not receive the support it required in terms of pricing, margin protection and stock rotation when the Saudi IT channel suffered a crisis last year following the stock market crash. At that time, AIM was managing a much higher level of inventory due to the build-up of stock ahead of Gitex Saudi coupled with ambitious projections based on the healthy performance of the IT market during the previous quarter.

Although a new country manager took over Fujitsu Siemens' Saudi operation last July, Baker claims AIM's losses had already become too great to take the relationship any further. "The new team tried and offered help," he said. "But we suffered for being the sole distributor in the Kingdom, and this result affected their business as well, which is an expected conclusion if you don't protect your channels.

Sascha Haake, director SME and channel at Fujitsu Siemens Middle East, says the vendor stands by its original expectations of the market's capacity, adding that it was a "common understanding" between the two companies that the relationship could not continue. He also stresses that the vendor is satisfied with the level of support it provides to the channel. "Our service manager is permanently monitoring what the service levels are and as soon as there is something we dig into it and try to put it out immediately. But that is currently not the case to my knowledge," he said.

FSC, which has since awarded Saudi distribution rights to BDL, remains a top-six notebook player in the Kingdom.

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