The debits and credits of the financial yearSYDNEY - The end of the financial year doesn't only mean that daylight hours start getting longer - it's also a time to take stock of the year gone by.
For some in the reseller community, it was good, for others it was, well, not so good.
Following a quick phone round of dealers, resellers and distributors, FY 96/97 will go down as a mixed bag, with an overall trend on the good side.
The outstanding reseller in the straw poll was Katherine Computer Services in Katherine, NT.
"We've had a great year," said manager, Leona Boller. "Staff grew from three to nine, and we've been able to turn ourselves into a complete business solution operation, including expertise in PABX installation."
The growth in Katherine was fuelled by new mining ventures in the district, and the new RAAF base at nearby Tindal.
On a quieter note, Paul Williams, director of Totally Portable in Brisbane, said the market there for laptops, "wasn't exactly rocketing along".
The company is the local distributor for Toshiba laptops. "My resellers think the market is soft, especially in the government sector - but the corporate market is steady," said Williams.
Victorian-based Research Computers, in semi-rural Eltham, is ending a year that won't be much different to the last one. Philip Bell, director, said, "If you'd asked me back in March, I'd have said it was a very bad year, but things picked up, and we finished about the same as last year.
"But our profit margins improved slightly," said Bell.
In the NSW south-coast town of Moruya, Pro-Star Computers finished 1996/97 celebrating its first full year in the retail channel. "Overall it's been good," said Steve Williams, proprietor. "The emphasis among our customers was buying new systems, while in the previous year it was mostly upgrades," he added.
Quadrant Computer Centre in Launceston, Tasmania, had a mixed bag. "Hardware sales were steady but software sales were down," said Rose Burdon, accountant at Quadrant.
And at Sydney-based Empire Computers, Ben Tavakoli, sales manager, said: "I don't have the exact figures but would say our business at least doubled in the past year." The company sells systems and peripherals direct through advertisements.
Among the major distributors, Dicker Data director Fiona Dicker said the company was having its best months ever.
"Business is going crazy," she said. "But while we're doing well overall, we know some of our resellers, particularly in the corporate and government sector, are having a tough time."
Also ending the year on a high note was Melbourne-based distributor Computer Hardware of Australia. Managing director Peter Ball said May was the best month they had ever experienced.
"Resellers are seeing value in our support services," he said. "We've also been very responsive to our customers," said Ball.
That even extended to dumping an automated answering system when feedback showed customers preferred talking to a human.
At Askey Australia, national sales manager Robert Vinokurov said the company's recent promotion of its Dynalink modems had been well received, but the market was generally slow ahead of the expected ramp-up of 56K models later in the year.