Westan pulls out of South Australia, denies it's selling up

Distributor merges with Hyka in South Australia, but managing director claims it's still in business elsewhere

Westan has denied claims it is selling up and exiting the IT distribution market.

Westan managing director, Victor Aghtan, admitted the IT distributor was pulling away from its traditional whitebox market, but said it would continue to focus on distributing hard drives, monitors and CE products for the foreseeable future.

The comments follow industry reports that the Melbourne-based distributor closed operations in South Australia and was looking to sell up.

“Westan has not sold the business. We have moved more into the CE side... we don’t have a lot of business with the whitebox side anymore,” Aghtan told ARN in a phone interview. “We are still selling Western Digital hard drives, as well as Samsung monitors and TVs, and Epson projectors.

“We are still in the distribution business – we have not changed our model. What we have done is narrowed it down to a number of areas and smaller vendors.”

An email to South Australian resellers from the distributor’s business partner, Ray Gwee, and sighted by ARN, said fellow distributor, Hyka, took on all Westan’s operations from April 1.

The email asked all resellers to become Hyka customers with Westan’s local sales consultant, Kris Cotton, seconded to the new owner.

Aghtan revealed Gwee opted to close his Westan-affiliated distribution operations and retired last month.

“We did not have a branch in South Australia – we had a partner called Westan SA who we’ve been dealing with for 18 years,” Aghtan said. “He ran his own business – he bought a lot from Westan, but it wasn’t exclusive.”

South Australia-based reseller, Greg Williams, said his Lincoln Computer Centre had become a Hyka customer following the merger.

“Our main contact from Westan made the move with the merger,” Williams said. “As far as I’m aware it was a simple case of consolidation and re-branding – I’m unaware that any Westan staff lost their jobs as a result of this.”

Fellow reseller, ITPros director, Gary Oliver, confirmed Westan SA had merged with Hyka, and reported no interruption to service with the remaining Westan operations.

“We tended to deal with Westan’s Melbourne office,” Oliver said. “We don’t hear much from it, as we only source our panels and monitors from it, but we received a new LED panel last week without any trouble.”

The rumours of Westan’s sell-off come weeks after rival IT hardware distributor, Protac, announced its decision to cut back operations in favour of focusing solely on bulk-buy deals. This week, the company also admitted it was looking to sell or lease its warehouse.

Aghtan said he was determined to continue operating despite the tougher economic climate.

“Everyone can see what is happening in the market… we will look at growing segments of the market. IT is difficult to compete, especially when you don’t have the market size of an Ingram Micro or Synnex,” he said. But he predicted more consolidation was on the cards.