There is evidence that IBM and boom retailer Harvey Norman Discounts are getting into bed together on both sides of the Tasman Sea and snuggling up to leverage each other's strengths.
New deals, completed earlier this month, will now see IBM employees source their entitlements under the staff purchase plan, direct from Harvey Norman retail outlets. Meanwhile over in New Zealand, IBM also plans to return to the New Zealand retail market in a major way through the phenomenally successful retail chain.
Under the staff discount plan in Australia, IBM personnel wanting to purchase IBM products for home will now just present appropriate paperwork and identification at any Harvey Norman store to receive the significantly reduced prices it offers.
Harvey Norman's general manager, computers and communications, Tony Gattari, told ARN last week the "extensive discount" offered meant his stores lose money on sales of IBM products to IBM staff, but such volume represents huge incremental sales possibilities.
"We hope these customers are not just going to buy a new computer from Harvey Norman. They are also going to need software, accessories and peripherals, so we are expecting to make some money there," Gattari said.
"Both parties were very satisfied with the deal. We will wear the discount but will get add-on sales that we never would have got otherwise, while IBM is still providing an important service to their staff without the management infrastructure costs in running it."
Meanwhile, over in New Zealand, Gattari says the retail market has now matured sufficiently to make "the timing right for another major brand to enter the market" which is currently dominated by HP's Pavilion and Compaq's Presario.
Gattari said: "IBM pulled out of the New Zealand market about two years ago and are now re-entering the market in a big way with Harvey Norman."
"We have had a problem for some time in New Zealand with not having consistent PC supply and we hope IBM will be able to sort that out for us as we have now made a firm commitment to sell and support their products there.
"We will be sourcing our stock out of Australia and sending it straight into three New Zealand stores we have recently opened and into the 12 new stores we are planning."