Victorian distributor QD Innovative Computer (QDI) will end its exclusive distribution agency with UK-based PC and notebook assembler Hi-Grade on 15 December, as the distributor cranks up its own brand.
Hi-Grade also plans to officially launch its own dedicated Australian operation with sales and distribution offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth next month.
Serge Serghiou, business development manager at Hi-Grade, said the company needed to take its service to the next level. 'QDI were not in a position to take the brand to the next level to increase the volume,' he said.
It is believed that during the past 12 months that QDI has sold Hi-Grade in this country, it had moved around $5 million worth of the vendor's gear.
'To improve our services and relationship with customers, we needed to have that direct interface,' Serghiou said. 'Stock availability was never meeting the demand that was created.'
A year down the line, things became apparent that they [QDI] needed to go in different directions, he said.
In Western Australia, it would sell its existing notebooks and a new PC range -- to be launched early 2004 -- through the state's largest independent computer retailer, Abacus.
Serghiou said it is possible that the assembler would also look at strike retail deals with retailers in NSW and Victoria, the likes of Harvey Norman.
Danny Wang, director at QDI in Melbourne, said under the distribution agreement with Hi-Grade, the distributor was bound to deal with Hi-Grade products only. 'We'd like to have some flexibility and deal with other vendors,' he said.
He said that Hi-Grade products are Intel-based and the distributor is putting its efforts behind the latest AMD Athlon 64 platform. It recently released its Alacritas 520-K8 notebook based on the platform and will step up its own QDI-branded product range when its distribution agency with Hi-Grade officially ends.
Serghiou said over the past year, it had done quite well in the Australian market, but declined to provide sales or unit shipment figures. However, he said everything was focused on 'price, price, price' and not enough on service. 'We wanted to make a number of improvements for a while now including improved stock availability, marketing support and a closer relationship with our customers. Over the coming months, I intend to visit as many resellers as possible to personally thank them for their support,' he said.
Hi-Grade also plans to launch Hi-Grade-branded 'Digital Media Centre' products that will be ready for Microsoft's Windows XP Media Centre Edition when it launches here next year.
While he wouldn't divulge the proportion of the Australian PC and notebook markets, Hi-Grade wants to capture, Serghiou said, 'we want to be on the pie chart'. He said the company could 'only take market share' [in Australia]. 'We want to introduce value-add and give service to people,' he said. 'In the UK and Europe it's a saturated marketplace and it's harder to take market share,' he said. Still, he agreed that there 'will be casualties' in the local white-box market.