Optima "failed to embrace dealer channel"

Optima "failed to embrace dealer channel"

Former channel boss says problems could have been avoided

A former channel sales manager has blasted Optima's board and senior management after the ASX-listed PC manufacturer fell into the hands of administrators.

Michael Calculli, who ran the company's channel sales business for 12 months before leaving in December 2004, said the buck should stop at the top because of a failure to embrace its dealer channel.

"While Optima was busy telling everybody they were the largest Australian PC manufacturer, they failed to listen," he wrote in an open letter to ARN. "Australia might not be that well known for technology but the public is willing to support the local underdog because Australians value personal relationships and buy from people, not companies."

Calculli pointed to the entry of Dell into the Australian market as a fork in the road - instead of "panicking and following the multinationals down an increasingly direct sales path", he said Optima should have embraced its dealer channel as a differentiator.

"It's true that Optima might have lost many government deals by doing this, but many of those were ultimately lost anyway," Calculli said. "The reach, relationship and support of the dealer channel would have seen Optima winning many more deals, possibly under the radar and making a profit in the process.

"Instead, Optima took opportunities from loyal regional dealers, affected their profit margins by targeting the mass market and built a consumer electronics retail business.

"My message to all local whitebox builders is to learn from this and embrace your channel partners because they are your only unique business proposition."

Optima CEO, Cornel Ung, had not responded to several requests for comment at the time of going to press. As previously reported in ARN, the company appointed Moore Stephens as administrators on July 24 several days after trading in its shares was suspended.

A creditors' meeting will be held today [August 4] at the Crowne Plaza, Parramatta.

For more on this story, see this week's ARN.

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