Computer Hardware Australia (CHA) is the latest distributor to be making rationalisation calls in the face of economic downturn, with the announcement last week that it had retrenched nearly 20 per cent of its staff.
Despite being forced into a tightening of overheads, CHA's CEO Roger Bushell said the mobile solutions specialist is "in great shape" and that the mobile solutions market is "genuinely getting better".
"The market for Toshiba [laptops] is very buoyant," Bushell. "I have also noticed a definite improvement in March [over February] and again this month seems to be going stronger.
"Mind you, this is cherry-picking season. It is the traditional good time of year for the market, but I genuinely believe we have seen the worst of it. I am much more optimistic than I was even just a month ago."
CHA's NSW office was hardest hit in the downsizing with four staff lost. Another three employees were culled across the country, reducing the distributor's total number of employees to 30.
CHA managing director Peter Thatcher said the distributor was restructuring its workforce due to the general economic downturn in the IT industry. Thatcher claims the cuts were made in an attempt to streamline the company and reduce its operating expenditure.
"I had to let a few people go, but if you look at the industry we're in line with everyone else," Thatcher said.
While he said it was disappointing to lose staff, the cost-cutting measure was necessary to better position the distributor in a difficult market.
Bushell said the reduction of staff numbers in the Sydney office reflected the fact that CHA had never really cracked the NSW market. However, he also said he remained committed to keeping the office open.
"Sydney has always been our most uncompetitive and unprofitable market," Bushell said. "But there is no way we are going to abandon Sydney.
"Long-term property leases have been signed so it would make no sense to close up Sydney. We have maintained our warehousing and sales operations there but, to be honest, the branch is probably now the correct size for us."
Bushell said it is merely good business practice to reel in overheads and concentrate on core competencies in tough times. "We are still very strong in Victoria and Western Australia, but I remain committed to our national strategy."