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Protectionism blamed in demise of NEC Computers Europe

Microscope contributor

Former staff at NEC Computers UK have accused management at the European headquarters in France of protectionism and a disregard for other operations in the region, which they claim ultimately cost them their jobs.

Last month, the Japanese corporate confirmed that it was halting PC production in Europe and withdrawing from the market as it could no longer compete against global giants Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Acer.

This has resulted in 12 out of 16 UK staff losing their full time positions - they are working out a notice period - with the remainders focusing on building NEC's enterprise infrastructure and services business.

MicroScope understands that four staff will remain in the UK and three in Holland but around 80 French staff will remain with the organisation, figures defined by the employment council based at HQ.

"HQ in France has mucked up the operations across Europe because of its protectionist attitude," said one NEC employee, "for a start we should have moved production years ago."

Another bone of contention is that the systems assembled in France were done so with corporate customers in mind, whereas the education space accounted for the lion's share of UK sales.

"The production set was kept for the requirements of the market in France instead of building products that were relevant to us, there were some very poor decisions made," said another former staffer.

Given the current state of the PC market, NEC Computers was fighting against the tide, could not hope to better the volumes generated by the largest PC vendors and put channel action plans in place too late.

In the summer of 2008, NEC moved to a 100% indirect strategy to build scale in its PC business unit, but certain customers wanted to maintain a direct relationship even though their purchasing strength did not warrant it.

"We tried to turn the ship around but it was too little too late," said a source.

Today, Reuters confirmed that NEC Computers is mirroring its move in Europe and pulling out of the market in the Asia Pacific region.

NEC was unavailable to comment

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