Hi-Grade PCs come on down under

Ever-decreasing margins and widespread warranty woes are problems Hi-Grade resellers won't have to deal with, the UK PC vendor promised last week as it officially launched an Australian operation.

"As a newcomer to Australia, we're trying to find the right balance by offering dealers a guaranteed 10-12 per cent margin on our products, because we know that people want to make margin," said Sergio Elias Serhion, business development manager for Hi-Grade Asia-Pacific.

Pitching itself "just underneath" the tier-one players, Hi-Grade will use a combination of direct and indirect sales models and attractive warranty deals in its quest for brand awareness and market share. The company hopes to take up to 4 per cent of the country's mobile computing market.

"We do not want to compete with the Pioneers and Protacs of this world," Elias Serhion said. "We're not a tier-one company, but we can offer tier-one service," he said.

Acknowledging that the mobile computing market is "a bit flat" at the moment, Elias Serhion said the company will differentiate itself by offering a two-year warranty with free accidental damage cover on all its products, which will be serviced through Acer Australia.

"We understand that this market is very channel-driven, and in the channel every penny counts. This is why we're releasing a unique product to this market," Elias Serhion said. "At the same time, we're not going to bastardise the product by selling it everywhere. We are focusing on building service value-add instead."

Hi-Grade's range of notebooks is currently distributed through Melbourne-based QD Innovative Computer, and the company also hopes to introduce desktops, PDAs and servers to the Australian market early next year. All products will be assembled locally.

Though virtually unknown in Australia, the company is one of the top PC suppliers to the government, military and education sectors in the UK and has an annual turnover of £60 million in Europe.