While the Australian operations of Hyundai MultiCAV are celebrating a major boon in signing a supply agreement with a large retail chain (BSL group), watching from the sidelines are several competitors eager to voice suspicions about the new company.
Hyundai MultiCAV was formed in Korea as an offshoot of Hynix Semiconductor (formerly Hyundai Electronics Industries). Its local operations began in mid-2002 and currently employ 14 staff in Adelaide.
Soon after its launch the company discovered it was not the first distributor to sell Hyundai-branded PCs in Australia. Natcomp Technology, a Sydney based distributor, claims to have a distribution agreement with Hyundai Corporation, again for the supply of personal computers. Natcomp has been distributing these PC’s for several years — and was immediately accused by its new competitor of distributing counterfeit product.
A fiery Fabio Grassia, director of Natcomp Technology, was green with envy after hearing that Hyundai MultiCAV attracted a large deal to supply PCs to Betta Electrical/Chandlers.
Grassia claimed that Natcomp was still the official distributor of Hyundai PCs, and was the only company that imports the PCs directly from Korea. He considered his new competitor’s product to be less genuine in that it was assembled in Australia. “They are buying the components here, building a box and sticking a Hyundai badge on it,” he said. “It is like me building a box, then calling it a Compaq,” he said.
Grassia claimed Hyundai MultiCAV’s Australian operations, based in Adelaide, were sourcing the cases, keyboards and mice for its PCs from a Silverwater company called Kingworld Enterprise, and sourcing Hyundai-branded monitors from Synnex.
A spokesperson at Kingworld Enterprise, in the process of merging with a company named CR Computer, confirmed that it did supply the cases for Hyundai MultiCAV Australia’s personal computers.
Synnex managing director, Frank Sheu, denied ever having supplied Hyundai MultiCAV with product.
On the other hand, Hyundai MultiCAV CEO, Aron Jackson, said that the PCs were not supplied from either business, except for occasional dealings with Synnex. He also claimed the computers were assembled by a third party in Adelaide, but declined to name the third party facility.
Grassia’s recent suspicions about his new rival stem from images of the Hyundai MultiCAV PCs advertised in the BSL catalogues. As one would expect, the casings of the computer have a Hyundai badge stuck on them. But the badge does not display the logo of the old Hyundai Electronics business nor Hyundai MultiCAV — but rather the official logo of the Hyundai Motor Company, a completely unrelated company.
“They are putting Hyundai car badges on the cases — surely they should get their hands smacked for that,” Grassia said. “I should know — I tried it once. Those companies are separate identities.”
Jackson said that the office of Hyundai Motor Company in the Sydney suburb of Homebush was aware of the logos being used in the BSL promotion, and had negotiated heavily-subsidised and even free cars to be used in such sales promotions.
Grassia said his main gripe with Hyundai MultiCAV was not that it was also selling under the Hyundai brand. It was because he was accused by Jackson of selling non-genuine product upon MultiCAV’s entry into the Australian market.
“He rubbished us for no reason whatsoever,” he said.
Both Grassia and Sheu made multiple and serious accusations about MultiCAV’s right to use the Hyundai name and it’s relationship with the company. However, repeated attempts to contact the various Hyundai businesses to determine exactly which of the companies was its official reseller met with no response.
While Jackson had no problem with Synnex selling Hyundai monitors, he said anybody else claiming to be an authorised distributor of Hyundai PC products in Australia was currently being considered for legal action.
Either way, he appears to have the support of his new retail customer. BSL spokesperson, Craig Speers, said the group would never be naïve enough to go into business with a company that did not have its legal and trademark issues in order.
“BSL have over 400 stores in Australia, but we also administer the Expert Global buying group, of which there are 17,000 members and purchasing power of over $26 billion,” he said. “I would say that BSL have done their homework on who they are dealing with.”