Xerox has a very simple strategy when it comes to the channel. If the company decides it needs a particular presence in a country it doesn't get bogged down in appointing distributors and setting up partner accreditations, it just goes out and
buys someone else's channel partner
In January last year, it bought Irish Business Systems, Konica Minolta's exclusive partner in Ireland, acquiring a readymade channel for its products, an experienced salesforce and access to over 10,000 customers in the process. It also caused huge disruption to the channel of one of its biggest rivals at the same time - and all for just €31m.
It did something similar in the US in 2007 with the purchase of Global Imaging and with the acquisition, a year later, of Veenman in the Netherlands. All of these acquisitions also helped to strengthen Xerox's managed print services credentials.
So it probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise to hear that Xerox has just bought Concept Group, which claims to be the biggest Canon dealer in the UK in terms of spend. The strategy appears consistent with the earlier acquisitions. The management team is remaining in situ but reporting to Douraid Zaghouani, president of indirect channels group at Xerox.
Zaghouani emphasised that channel expansion was a "key aspect of the Xerox strategy for Europe". The purchase of Concept Group would "significantly increase our presence across the UK" and expand its reach into the SMB market. As with IBS in Ireland, it would also hurt one of Xerox's rivals at the same time.
Rivals can have no excuse for not being aware of the dangers posed by Xerox's strategy to their own channels, which makes it strange they don't appear to have been making a stronger effort to keep their partners out of the clutches of the office equipment giant.