Second coming of a Chinese legend, locally

Second coming of a Chinese legend, locally

Two Englishmen gambling everything on a new venture in Australia — it’s a story as old as white settlement itself.

Legend QDI — one of China’s largest IT manufacturers — is about to take a second crack at the Australian market. A two-man team from the UK, working on sales commission only, will head up the venture.

Richard Hattam is leaving his job as UK region manager for Legend QDI, to head up its Australian sales presence in conjunction with operations and technical director, Con Donovan. With no plans to establish a QDI office in Australia, Hattam said that the company’s skeletal approach to country management has worked very successfully in the UK, which ships 15, 000 motherboards a month in a country where it only employs three staff.

Hattam said he volunteered to spearhead Legend in Australia because he was confident it would take off with the support of BCN Technology, the exclusive distributor for Australasia.

Legend QDI hasn’t had an Australian presence since 1998. The manufacturer had offices in Melbourne and Sydney until 1996 when it closed them, and had a distribution presence only until it completely withdrew from the market in 1998.

Hattam played down the significance of QDI Legend’s first foray into the Australian market, saying “the problem in the past was the service level the agent provided.”

However, MD of Melbourne-based QD Innovative Computer, Danny Wang, said the distributor’s six-year relationship with Legend QDI had been a successful one, blaming a change of Legend strategy for its withdrawal from the Australian market in 1998.

“We used to move 4000 motherboards a month through the Melbourne office, and 3000-5000 VGA cards a month,” Wang said. “We had a really successful story.”

QD Innovative Computer, now a laptop specialist distributing for Hi-Grade Computers, began life as a Legend QDI office, Wang said. When Legend QDI closed its Australian offices in October 1996, QD Innovative became a separate distribution business, and continued distribution for its former parent.

Wang said Legend QDI’s decision to end supply to Australia in 1998 was due to the market conditions at the time and a Legend decision to refocus its efforts on its domestic market in China.

“The market was flooded with motherboards, there was no margin in it at all, that’s why we diversified,” Wang said. “They’ve achieved their goal in China, I guess now they’re ready to look overseas again.”.

BCN Technology’s first offerings from Legend QDI will be motherboards and graphics cards.

They would be in stock by the end of the month, BCN Product Marketing Manager, Ian Medcalf, said. By mid-May they would also offer wireless LAN, USB drives and barebones systems.

“The range will continue to grow over the next 12 months with products ranging from notebooks and PDAs right through to digital telephones,” Medcalf said.

If its first few months in Australia were successful, Legend QDI would offer customer service and technical support through a local employee, who would be based at BCN’s headquarters.

“Very few companies within China and Taiwan are willing to provide that kind of resource in Australia,” Hatton said.

From their base on the Gold Coast, Hattam and Donovan plan to spend most of their time on the road building relationships with the channel and establishing the brand in Australia.

They would target regional resellers “where the loyalty might not be there for partic­ular distributors and products,” Hattam said.

Should the model prove successful in Australia, Hattam said the company was “hoping to touch on South American and South Africa with a similar model”.

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