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Exertis creates new print specialist business

Exertis is merging its print hardware and supplies divisions to create one specialist print business unit. Michelle Ryder spoke to Andrew Beaumont, Managing Director, Exertis Supplies and Al Coyne General Manager, Print, to find out more about how a joined up hardware and supplies business will create a better customer experience as well as deliver value-add to its vendor partners

The Exertis group combines a number of technology pillars including IT, print, consumer, enterprise, mobile and supplies. Print was the first technology it sold, dating back to the mid-1980s when it was known as Micro-P.

With a clear strategic goal to grow the print business, Exertis entered the A3 market with brands such as Samsung (acquired by HP), Lexmark and Epson RIPS devices, and set-up a specialist sales team, dedicated to selling to traditional copier dealers who understood, lived and breathed OA. From its purpose-built Norfolk base, the dedicated print hardware business which also distributes Brother, Kyocera and OKI, comprises a commercial team of customer-facing product sales specialists that align to brands as well as a product management team supporting them.

Exertis also inherited the Epson large format printers, ink and media business from sister company Computers Unlimited and offers complementary products such as scanners from brands including Kodak Alaris, Brother, Epson and Plustek.

In terms of channel support, it offers a range of additional services including asset tagging, PDI, collection and disposal of legacy equipment, hard drive destruction, as well as basic network set-up and training. It also has a nationwide network of engineers.

Bring print and supplies together
Exertis Supplies came about following the acquisition of consumables distributor Advent Data in 2011, a move that enabled the firm to achieve a foothold in the supplies market. According to Beaumont, the long-term plan was always to bring print and supplies together. “We have a lot of specialist experience within both divisions, by merging the two, we’re giving customers access to all of the products we provide, and making it easier to transact with us. So Exertis Supplies customers can buy print hardware alongside supplies and in the same vein, Exertis print customers will have easy access to the supplies we distribute,” he said.

On the print side, Exertis currently transacts with approximately 500 channel businesses, within supplies that number sits at around 2,000. The company is expecting that to grow quite significantly. It has just launched a new trading platform which once finalised company-wide will enable resellers to buy both supplies and hardware as one transaction under one account.

Speaking about the rationale behind the decision, Beaumont said it will create opportunity. “We will be able to offer customers more of the group’s portfolio and become a one stop shop for all of their printing needs. In theory, customers can come through supplies and buy hardware, supplies or both, without having to go through another part of the business and open up a new account.”

Exertis Alistair Coyne
Exertis Alistair Coyne

“Bringing both business units together and creating a joined up hardware and supplies business will deliver a better customer experience and we also believe it’s a move that will also benefit our vendors,” Coyne added.

Continued growth
“Over the past few years (since 2016) we’ve doubled print hardware revenue,” Coyne added. “We want to continue to grow in a market which is actually flat or declining. Despite the current challenging climate, we have done a good job so far, but by bringing our businesses together, and creating that specialism for both hardware and supplies, we are confident we can continue to grow and add more value to deliver what our customers need.”

Exertis distributes HP, Epson, Brother, Kyocera and OKI supplies. Beaumont admits that the division has seen limited growth as a result of market conditions but that the addition of office products to its offering has elevated its position within the channel, enabling it to also compete in the wholesale sector.

In terms of the new set-up, the structure will remain largely unchanged with Beaumont remaining at the helm of the business. “What’s key is making sure that we focus on ensuring that whether it’s from a vendor’s or a dealer’s point of view, the teams are joined up to deliver an end-to-end, value-added service,” he said.

Beaumont confirmed that the company is also working on the services part of the business, and inferred that Exertis will be able to offer more services moving forward. “For us, the key message is that we see this move as really positive for both our vendors and customers alike,” he concluded.