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Northamber sheds box shifting skin with Solution Point launch

Microscope contributor

The realisation that margins made from classic IT wholesaling will not return to previous levels has finally dawned on Northamber, which is taking major steps into a world beyond box shifting.

The Surrey-based distributor, which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary later this year, has invested £200,000 in Solution Point, a 10,000 sq ft IBM centre above its warehouse in Webybridge as a precursor to becoming a mid-market VAD.

"Northamber is embarking on building a solutions based business to grow revenues and profits because the margins are shrinking on box turnover," said Paul Fuller, IBM business unit director at Northamber.

In reality, Northamber has failed to move with the times; the distributor only recently broke back into profit - though half of this was generated through bank interest - and it no longer has the economies of scale to compete with bigger US rivals.

The Solution Point offers IBM employees and Business Partners conference, training, demonstration and configuration facilities and includes a Virtualisation Practise to showcase technologies and an open zone for informal meets.

A virtualisation solution will be launched first, centring on IBM System x, mid-range XIV storage, and virtual disk solutions and virtualisation and Northamber will "heavily promote" pre and post sales professional services delivered by the vendor.

Fuller said a number of programmes are also in the offing including Front Runner; marketing the solution to the user community to create pull, feeding that back to the resellers, providing marketing collateral and monitoring the leads and sales cycle.

He revealed Northamber will create an HP Attack programme to migrate small to mid-sized resellers and would be looking to raid Dell's partner base but reckoned it already sold to 100 more Business Partners than any other distributor.

"IBM is looking to heavily target the mid-market but to be frank the largest distributors are getting larger - the corporate distributors like Avnet TS and Arrow ECS - and they are too big to address the needs of SME resellers," he said.

Processes that result from becoming a billion dollar company slows market penetration with issues such as credit held up by decision making time, while rivals also faced issues including central warehousing, Fuller added.


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