Avnet: Tackling a flat market

Avnet: Tackling a flat market

Despite the deterioration of global economies and fears of recession, Avnet’s general manager, Gavin Lawless, is optimistic about the IT channel's chances in 2009. In the first of ARN’s new Distributor Directions series with leading distribution chiefs, he talked to ARN about the effects of the economic downturn, market conditions and strategies for the New Year.

What is your outlook for 2009?

It’s been interesting. I wouldn’t say IT is sheltered from the rest of the economy, but we don’t see the kinds of figures being talked about in the general economy reflected in IT business. If you look at areas like banking and finance, which leads on to housing, motor vehicles and so on, there absolutely was a bubble. But unlike IT in 1999-2001, we haven’t been in a bubble. Organisations spend on technology because they have to, and because there’s a need. Even though organisations are making less money than they made last year and the year before, they still have a need. So we don’t see doom and gloom, or the market going backwards – it’s not going to grow like it was, but it’s not a declining market. It’s probably going to be flat.

Have you adjusted your go-to-market strategy in light of the economic downturn?

Not particularly. We are still going ahead as we were six months ago and we still see growth. Plans we have had in place for a few years are still going forward. The only area where it has had some impact is in acquisitions. We have made it public that our plans in this country are about organic growth and M&A growth. This current environment does mean that M&A isn’t as high on the agenda as it was six months ago. Outside of that, our go-to-market and investments aren’t changing, nor is our business model. We are running a healthy business, our revenue and profits are healthy and we don’t need to change.

It’s been just over 12 months since Avnet acquired ChannelWorx. What affect has this had on your business?

We took an approach to run ChannelWorx separately until July 1, and so we have had seven months of integration. All in all, it’s gone pretty well. Anyone who goes through integration will tell you it’s not easy. I don’t think anyone from our organisation has spoken about integration for the last couple of months, which means we have finished the process including personnel moving into new roles, system changes and a host of things in the background. It has left us with a great business, a lot of new partners and great opportunity – we now have a real presence in the networking and security space.

Avnet brought on Zylotech a few months back, as well as expanded its relationship with IBM’s Internet Security Systems. Is there more to be done across your security portfolio?

We will not stop investing and looking for new partners and technologies. We don’t ever want to become broad-based, but the desire and need to look for new things doesn’t go away. There will come a time when we say to ourselves that our networking and security portfolio is complete and all the bases are covered.

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