Built-to-order PC company Gateway has denied speculation that it would exit the Australian market next month under the vendor's plans for an international restructure.
Disappointed with its financial results, the vendor announced a review of international operations in early August. Gateway has already informed the UK Government of the possibility of closing facilities in that region.
Locally, ARN sources suggest part or all of Gateway's Sydney head office facilities plan to be vacated and introduced to new tennants in September. Gateway spokesperson Mike Buchanan denied any such movement, and said the vendor has leasing agreements signed until 2003.
"This is another tid-bit of information coming from the media," he said. "Because our future is so open ended, it leads itself to speculation."
Buchanan said the only change Gateway has already announced is the outsourcing of its technical support to Datacom, which has resulted in some free space in its Sydney office. He said the vendor is likely to put this free space up for lease.
"Until the global decision is made, Australian operations are continuing as normal," he said.
For the better part of two years, Gateway Australia has not handled the product that customers order from its stores. Customers order from Gateway shop-fronts, and the order is assembled in Malaysia and shipped directly to the customer.
With no inventory held or technical support provided in the vendor's Australian office, its role has been limited to administrative duties. Nevertheless, several of its "Gateway Associates" channel partners have indicated their businesses would be significantly impacted if the vendor pulls the plug on its Australian operations.
"You make less money on them, but Gateway provides a very convenient way to help my business," said a consultant from one such Associate partner. "There would be a hole in my business if they went away. I would have to change my product mix a bit."
A former partner was less than enthusiastic about Gateway's attempt at a channel program. "We didn't last very long with the program," he said. "There were people involved in putting together who put a lot of thought into it, but they changed staff not long into it. It was a shame. I don't think Gateway are really committed to doing anything from a channel perspective."