More than one in three Hewlett-Packard Gold partners have lost or dropped the top tier accreditation since the start of fiscal 2010.
The US tech monster exited the last financial year ended October with 135 certified Gold class resellers but numbers have dived, the vendor has confirmed.
"We have got approximately 85 Gold partners," said Kevin Matthews, HP UK and Ireland channel manager for enterprise storage, server and networking (ESSN), "it has come down from 135".
One of the criticisms leveled at HP has been the high volume of Preferred Partners that achieved the top level certification, which diluted its exclusivity.
However Matthews insisted that cutting the numbers was "not at the fore-front of our mind" and that some had decided not to re-accredit, though he conceded that rises in the revenue threshold amid the recession had forced others out.
"Our Preferred Partner and Gold PP programmes are annual programmes," he told MicroScope, "you will see natural attrition when partners decide to leave or haven't sold as much HP product."
Some sources suggested that HP wanted fewer managed accounts as it had made cuts to its channel organisation and had fewer heads to oversee channel partners.
HP said it did not have a reduction target for Gold partners but wanted to make sure it had the right partners to cover its high priority markets
Rob Campbell, managing director at Kavanagh, had previously urged HP to cull the number of Gold partners in the UK and was pleased by the move.
"This is definitely a step in the right direction and a bold move," he said.
The reduction will give the accreditation more meaning said Martin Hellawell, managing director at Softcat.
"When the programme first came out we were a bit disappointed that lots of resellers were involved, this will give the Gold partners a more competitive advantage."
However others want to see the community shrink even further and Tom Kelly, UK boss at Logicalis, said HP should mirror Cisco's top tier channel which has 25 to 30 Gold standard bearers.
"For the size of market in the UK , having 85 Gold partners is far too many," he said, "there are only a handful that can differentiate their value proposition. It needs to drop by 70%."