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30 years on, Comworth Group exits NZ distribution market

30 years on, Comworth Group exits NZ distribution market

"Margins in distribution are extremely thin, competition is fierce and there is an obvious territorial limit to business activity."

The Comworth Group is to exit distribution to sharpen its focus on higher-margin cloud, managed services and software-as-a-service opportunities under its Virsae and Agile businesses.

The restructure of Comworth Technologies brings to a close over three decades of success in distributing hardware products including OKI and Zebra printers, and Panasonic Toughbook devices.

Comworth Group managing director Mark Charlesworth notes that the company was founded on distribution.

“For over 30 years, we’ve operated as a technology distributor and services provider with a reputation for quality brands and great staff with strong reseller and customer relationships,” Charlesworth says.

“However, the market is changing. Margins in distribution are extremely thin, competition is fierce and there is an obvious territorial limit to business activity.

“By exiting distribution, we can focus on our software businesses which are already successful in international markets, where high margin growth can be pursued more vigorously.”

Charlesworth says the Comworth Group’s Virsae division provides a suite of cloud-based tools to manage multi-vendor unified communications environments.

Virsae solutions are used locally and internationally, including North America and Europe - the Agile business provides contact centre, networking, unified communication solutions and managed services to customers across New Zealand and Australia.

Charlesworth says Virsae has enjoyed rapid growth internationally with its cloud-based solutions, while Agile, a long standing services based player on both sides of the Tasman, is pursuing growth opportunities in managed services and its contact centre software-as-a-service offerings in New Zealand and Australia.

“Moving from a product to a services centric business model means the Comworth Group can access wider markets and better compete on an international stage,” Charlesworth adds.

As part of the restructure, printer vendor OKI will establish a direct presence in the country.

Also, Sektor Distributors (NZ) Ltd, recently appointed as Panasonic Toughbook distributor across Australia and New Zealand, will acquire the Toughbook and Zebra Card agencies from Comworth Technologies.

While noting some sentimentality in letting go of the distribution business, he says the company’s future lies in developing and selling its intellectual property.

“Distribution has been the mainstay of Comworth for the last 32 years, but there are significant opportunities ahead, particularly in cloud and software-as-a-service,” Charlesworth adds.

“We’ll look to capitalise on these opportunities while moving the business forward into another exciting phase.”

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