NEC is aiming to do a Dell on UK small- and medium-sized companies by selling direct. Confirmed today, the move is a U-turn for the company that has always relied on corporate sales force and a traditional channel but has long been rumoured in the channel.
Following similar moves in the US and France, NEC Direct will target the UK SME sector with three lines of desktop and two lines of notebook PCs.
The desktop PCs will be sold under the NEC Direction name and will cover Professional, Multimedia and entry-level Evolution configuration options. Prices will start at £649 + VAT for a bare-bones Evolution system based on a 200MHz Pentium MMX processor with 16Mb SDRAM, 2.1Gb hard drive and 15-inch monitor. The notebooks are the Versa 2700 and 6000. Systems will be manufactured in France and will be delivered to buyers within eight days of purchase, NEC Direct said.
Colwyn Munro, general manager of NEC Direct, said that Packard Bell, the PC maker 49 per cent owned by NEC and 10 per cent owned by NEC partner Bull, will be left "to concentrate very much on the consumer".
He also insisted there will be no clash with NEC's corporate sales division which will focus on contract sales based on NEC's top-end PowerMate desktop PC line and Versa notebooks. Servers are likely to follow in the next six months.
Together, NEC and Packard Bell account for the fifth highest volume of PC sales in the world, Munro added.
Munro said NEC Direct would differentiate itself from the competition by delivering highly flexible configurations and high-quality service.
"Many of the major players back off from the warranty and services message," Munro said. "Either they don't mention it or they're very wishy-washy and offer some sort of off-site deal. You need on-site support if you're in business."
NEC Direct will offer one-year on-site support as standard on desktops and charge £149 for a two-year extension to that arrangement.
Munro said he wanted a paced entry into the UK direct sales market that is led by established US firms, Dell and Gateway 2000. To that end, NEC Direct will start out advertising in just two computer monthlies.
"We're going to launch in a very controlled way so that at no point do we over-promise and under-deliver [but eventually] you're going to see the NEC brand promoted into the business arena in a way it has never been before."
NEC Direct: 01706-362811