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Mitel direct talk masks cost cuts

Alex Scroxton

Suggestions that Mitel UK sales director Enda Kenneally stepped down from her post after falling out with the firm over a move to take more channel business direct are baseless but have served to deflect attention from cost cuts at the vendor.

One source close to the Mitel channel said: "Everybody else has been whining about Mitel's financial status and how they can keep going given the state of their balance sheet. The impression I got was that it was nothing to do with a spat, it really was just aggressive cost-cutting."

Mitel specialist Andy Crawford, recently appointed as development manager for the Mitel line at growing networking reseller Intrinsic,said he was "disappointed to see Enda go" but believed that the channel should be in safe hands.

One reseller added that the rumour had been "concerning, but appears to have no substance", and Mitel EMEA managing director Graham Bevington moved swiftly to reassure those who were worried by the speculation.

He explained that while Mitel had been a direct business in the '90s, the launch of its 50-100 port-centric 3300 line in 2000 had made channel-building an imperative.

"We turned our UK business channel-focused first,and it's been very successful. The logic of us pressing the reset button is just preposterous. Why would we ignore the last nine years of work?" he said.

Mitel confirmed Kenneally's departure late Friday after the unconfirmed rumours about the reasons for her exit surfaced.

The source of the speculation that Mitel was preparing a direct assault has not been identified.

In a lengthy statement sent to MicroScope, Mitel said Kenneally's departure was due to a need to "streamline its organisation" and stressed it remained committed to the channel strategy championed by Kenneally.

Bevington, who is taking on additional responsibilities in the UK, quashed talk of aggressive cost slashing and said the cuts had actually been "quite light".

He pointed out that Mitel revenue growth had flatlined during the recession and said the firm had taken the view that recovery was going to take some time.

Kenneally, meanwhile, has already been linked with several other firms but as yet there is no indication of what her next move might be.


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