Caught in the suburban crossfire

Caught in the suburban crossfire

Victorian retailer IT Computer Supermarket is keen to reassure its suppliers that being in the same suburb as the likes of Z-Tek and Centronics is not reason enough to taint its good reputation.

IT Computer Supermarket is a low-margin, high-volume IT retailer specialising in components and peripherals. Its Melbourne city office tends to cater for corporate and SME customers, while its Clayton warehouse sells mostly to IT-savvy end users.

Having a store in Clayton has recently caused IT Computer Supermarket some dramas. The Melbourne suburb has been under the spotlight of late after the demise of Z-Tek Computer Pty Ltd and Centronics, both Clayton-based businesses that were investigated by various authorities over stock that was removed from their warehouses shortly after being forced into liquidation. Last month, ARN revealed that IT Computer Supermarket had been investigated by the Victorian Police with regards to the Centronics stock, but that the investigation did not result in any indication the retailer was involved in any wrongdoing.

Upon publication of the story, IT Computer Supermarket's suppliers began calling or even visiting the premises of the retailer in person to make further enquiries over the matter.

Operations manager George Mardikis said that just being mentioned alongside the likes of Centronics has caused the business some serious difficulties. Several suppliers needed reassuring that the retailer was not selling tainted stock from Centronics. More importantly, after many months of receiving "fantastic" credit ratings among its suppliers since the retailer was established in early 2001, even the best of these relationships have been called into question. One of the retailer's strongest supporters, wholesale supplier Rectron, claimed its insurers would no longer allow it to offer such attractive terms.

With these issues in the process of being resolved, Mardikis wants to remove any anxieties in the channel, particularly among suppliers. He believes the retailer should not be considered guilty by association simply because one of its 50-odd suppliers was the now-defunct Centronics business.

"We need to reassure everybody that we weren't a part of it," he said. "The police were just doing their duties, they returned all the stock and everything has been resolved."

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