Imaging products vendor Panasonic Australia has acquired one of its dealers, OES Business Equipment, and converted it into a direct sales operation supplying corporate and Government clients with digital copiers, facsimiles, printers and other IT goods.
OES Business Equipment had been a Sydney-based Panasonic authorised business centre for more than 20 years. It held contracts with Government clients such as the Federal Department of Finance and Administration, the NSW Department of Transport, Landcom, Sydney University and the University of New South Wales; and corporate clients such as AMP, AWA, Rothschild Australia, the Seven Network, St George Bank and Sun Microsystems Australia. OES was also a reseller of OKI and Hewlett-Packard products.
Panasonic has renamed the business "Panasonic Direct Business Solutions" and appointed Leon Bathis as general manager. Bathis said all OES staff were retained under the agreement and the business is running as normal.
Bathis said he advised Panasonic's 150-strong channel of the move, assuring his dealers they would also benefit from the acquisition. He said the new direct sales division will not enter any market currently served by Panasonic's partners as these businesses mainly serve the small business market, while the direct sales team will retain its focus on corporate and Government clients.
"We aren't going head-to-head with our own dealers," Bathis said. "Corporate and Government customers are generally Australia-wide. Our office will provide a single point of contact for these customers, and then we will determine where dealers can provide installation and services support when required."
Geoff Smith, managing director of Perth-based Panasonic reseller City Business Machines, said he was a little shocked by the news at first, but is now confident the acquisition will not have adverse effects on his business.
"At the end of the day, there should be more business for us down the track," he said. "Panasonic has all the right products, but their major problem has always been presence. They don't have the presence that Canon and Compaq have.
"If smaller businesses see Panasonic winning Government and corporate contracts, they might choose Panasonic through us."