IPL splits as Oki buys out printing distribution division

IPL splits as Oki buys out printing distribution division

IPL owner and founder, Stead Denton, says it will now focus on driving unified communications solutions as well as its exclusive partnership with Panasonic

Japan-based printer vendor, Oki, has bought out the print distribution division of Australian supplier, IPL Communications, after 27 years in partnership.

The new deal sees IPL founder and managing director, Stead Denton, retain the distributor’s IP telephony and communications business. Oki takes over the imaging side and its 10 employees. Among those employees are former IPL managers, Graham Harman and Jeremy De Silva. Financial details have not been dislosed. The new structure becomes official on December 1.

The changes coincide with IPL’s new exclusive distribution agreement across Panasonic’s IP telephony range. Under the arrangement, IPL has taken on the vendor’s nine IP telephony staff across sales, technical support and accounts, bringing its total headcount to 40. IPL’s general manager, Paul Scanlan, and COO, Bruce Wall, have stayed on-board.

“It has been a dramatic 12 months, not only in terms of the GFC, but after 27 years with Oki, they have bought us out and we’ve become Panasonic’s exclusive distributor – and all on December 1,” Denton said.

IPL was established as Oki’s sole supplier in Australia in 1982. Since then, the vendor maintained a 37 per cent minority stake in the business. Denton claimed the two companies not only shared distribution, but also intellectual property. He originally suggested the buyout to Oki early last year.

“The market has changed – there are a lot more competitors in the printers space, and a lot more models. All the [Oki] factory subsidiaries [globally] were after market share, whereas we, as a distributor, were after both market share and profitability,” Denton said. “To compete fairly and openly, Oki needed to be its own company and have the same agenda as other printer vendors.

“The relationship has been fantastic, but it’s time for us to step aside and let them do this themselves.”

IPL will now concentrate on its telephony and unified communications vendors, Panasonic, Alcatel-Lucent, Siemens and LifeSize. Denton said it would also work closely with Oki over the next 12 months providing logistics and warehousing capabilities through a services agreement.

“Oki doesn’t have the ability to invoice, pick, pack and ship locally. We will provide that as they look to find their own logistics,” he said.

Denton looked forward to the challenge of driving IPL Communications’ presence and revenue but admitted it was an emotional and interesting time both personally.

“You don’t get too many opportunities to do this in business because change is usually incremental,” he said. “We have an opportunity to grow Panasonic’s [IP telephony] business significantly, which is exciting.

“Unified communications has been a long, hard road, but it’s starting to catch on now. The cost of UC is coming down to the point where it’s below the corporate space and achievable for smart SMEs. That’s our target market.”

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