Acer talks commercial comeback

acer logo in green

2011 was a year Acer would probably like to forget, with the company battling major inventory problems, falling sales and share prices, redundancies plus the resignation of its CEO.

However, the Taiwanese firm now appears to be picking itself up and dusting itself off with a renewed channel focus and a determined push to establish itself with credibility in the commercial sector.

Speaking with Channel Pro, Acer’s head of marketing channel and retail, Linda Hassall, concedes the problems surrounding its high stock levels during Q4 last year were a challenge – but the vendor has been working hard to rectify the situation: “We’ve been very vocal that we want to be a ‘pull’ company rather than a ‘push’ company,” she says.

“We wanted to make sure the product was selling out before we sold in new stock,” she explains, adding “the hardware shortage at the tail end of last year helped us considerably with our stock inventory, and got us into a healthy position starting 2012.”

New approach

Moving forward, the firm says it has adopted a “more considered, focused” approach to its growth. This translates as chasing less after market share, as it has in the past, to instead attempting to sustain its existing business.

“We do want to grow market share but we want to do it in a profitable way,” says Hassall. “We want to choose the business we go after, whereas historically we haven’t always done that.”

This philosophical shift could be traced back to at the end of last year, when the firm overhauled its local leadership teams. Neil Marshall replaced departing Acer UK MD Bobby Watkins, and the organisation welcomed new heads for its consumer and distribution business, plus a new CFO.

Nathan Knight, who previously ran Acer’s Gateway business in the UK, now heads up the company’s commercial division, which comprises professional PCs, AV, server & storage and commercial sales teams. He describes the reorganisation as “a significant transformation in terms of local leadership”.

Established only 12 months ago, the commercial division currently represents around 20 percent of the firm’s overall business – with the vendor looking to increase this by another 10 percent by 2013.

One way that Acer is helping to solidify its reputation in the sector is be leveraging its position as a sponsor of the London Olympics 2012. “We want to demonstrate that Acer has the capability to operate in the corporate enterprise space,” says Knight of the vendor’s role as technology provider to the games. “Demonstrating 10,000 desktops, 2,000 notebooks, servers and storage in a highly complex IT environment is fantastic for us to generate that credibility.”

Channel moves

Knight (pictured) says empowerment of the channel is another key focus for Acer, with the vendor preparing to unveil a re-vamped channel programme, Synergy, to its 2000 UK partners next month.

A major component to the new programme will be a portal where resellers can access all of their Acer resources from one place. Historically partners would have to go to “four or five different sites” to gather product specifications, images, press releases and marketing materials. The new portal will contain these as well as pricing information, special offers, promotions, an online training module as well as a special bids tool and a competency centre for bidding on complicated jobs.

“Pushing more into the midmarket and corporate….partners need access to product literature, training, development, investment. We’ve had informal structures in the past, but what we’ve done is build a programme that’s formalised that,” explains Hassall.

Acer has also overhauled its tiering system and partner classifications. While it’s previous channel programme had three partner levels – Gold, Silver and Point – the new programme has added another two – Platinum and Vertical. “We didn’t have a classification that was dedicated to the corporate side of the business,” adds Hassall.

“We haven’t reinvented the wheel; we’ve listed to what our channel partners want in a programme and tried to design a programme that meets their requirements.”

The past 12 months have also seen Acer “recalibrate” its consumer-orientated warranty model to better serve its corporate resellers, which Knight describes as a “significant change in processes, escalation, spare parts, call centre capability, training and development.”


Meanwhile, after ongoing rumours regarding the fate of the company’s Gateway business, Knight confirms the brand is “being merged” into the Acer business in certain territories – including the UK. This includes the consolidation of its account management and distribution. “Our primary focus in Acer,” says Knight.

For now, the firm is keen to emphasise its “mature” approach to building its business. “If someone wants to actively partner with us, that’s fine, but we want to solidify our base. We have such a strong portfolio – there are partners that are selling our partners but not selling our projectors or our notebook or our tablets, so we’re about building the base that we have,” says Knight. “That doesn’t preclude growing and developing, but at this point in time, that’s where it sits.”

“We’ve got the foundation, we’ve got the new management team and we’re in a healthy position regarding stock in channel, and we’ve also got some amazing products lined-up,” adds Hassall. “We’ve also got a nice, clean roadmap for the coming quarters.”

Christine Horton

Christine has been a tech journalist for over 20 years, 10 of which she spent exclusively covering the IT Channel. From 2006-2009 she worked as the editor of Channel Business, before moving on to ChannelPro where she was editor and, latterly, senior editor.

Since 2016, she has been a freelance writer, editor, and copywriter and continues to cover the channel in addition to broader IT themes. Additionally, she provides media training explaining what the channel is and why it’s important to businesses.