Muscat returns to the fold

Muscat returns to the fold

Former BBF Peripherals boss, Michael Muscat, has returned to the industry with Multie Technology Distribution (MTD) following a one-year absence.

His immediate goal is to turn the component distributor's fortunes around - MTD has seen its annual revenues halve since listing on the ASX four years ago. In the financial year just closed, its revenues totalled $19 million.

"It has taken the staff a long time to get to grips with the difference between operating as a public and private company," he said. "A private organisation can simply get on with business but a public one has much greater accountability issues to deal with and some vendors have walked away."

Its most important lines now are Fujitsu servers, all of Panasonic's IT portfolio with the exception of its ruggedised notebook range, Upsonic UPS gear and Verbatim storage. Because MTD had previously carried a lot of stock under sub-distribution agreements, Muscat said resellers had formed an impression that it was expensive to deal with.

"The problem when you first talk to resellers is that they want to look at the price list and scan for HP printers or Intel CPUs, which are difficult to be competitive on when you are sourcing them through sub-distribution," he said.

"The first thing for us to do is to sort out which vendors we can work effectively with on a direct basis and cull the rest. We have probably halved the products on our website in the past week and will be taking more off. "If we focus on our core products we are as competitive as the next guy."

Although MTD has resellers all over Australia, Muscat said he would also look to sharpen its focus on offering a more personal touch to partners in regional Victoria.

In the current financial year, he is targeting a modest increase in revenues to $24 million. This will be assisted by a range of newly introduced internal sales incentives.

With his temporary departure from the industry largely forced by a non-competition clause when he left his marketing role at Bluechip Infotech, Muscat used the past 12 months to try his luck at something a little different.

"I thought I was over the IT industry when I left Bluechip [a year after its merger with BBF] so I went and bought a bottle shop in Vermont [Victoria]," he said. "But I soon found that I missed the excitement. And besides, the effort you put into growing a liquor retailer by a small amount converts into much bigger numbers in the IT industry."

If anybody feels like making a career change, Muscat's bottle shop is back on the market.

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