Channel Post speaks with Paul Collins, MEA General Manager at Acer about the company’s journey, its product portfolio, channel engagement and the growth it is experiencing not just in Middle East but also worldwide.
How would you evaluate Acer’s journey so far and where do you stand currently in terms of your product portfolio, channel base and geographical spread in the region?
We are very pleased with the progress that Acer has been making, both here and internationally, over the past quarters. The news from Taiwan remains extremely positive and we have recently reported our 18th consecutive quarter of robust growth, whilst adding two acquisitions to our group.
As for local news, we are happy to report that we are now covering the full Middle East region after re-entering Egypt and retail in Iraq. We have also spent the past year re-engineering our company to be completely sell out focused which has been extremely well accepted by our partners. This is also reflected in our success of our focus areas of thin and light products and gaming.
In your view, where is the regional market heading and how do you intend to grow your market in the region?
We have some key events happening over the next year, not least of all chip shortages from Intel as well as the end of support for Windows 7. This is forcing vendors and customers alike to re-evaluate product offerings and choices. We are seeing a move to “modern devices” or non-traditional form factors, touch screens and converged products, which can fulfil two or more functions such as a work machine by day and a gaming computer at night. We are also looking at a multi-pronged approach to growth with geographical, product and vertical industry ambitions.
What value does Acer bring to its channel partners and why should partners work with you?
Acer is a sell-out company and as such is the easiest and most risk-free vendor to liaise with. We believe that a product is only sold when someone is typing on it and using it. Our partners appreciate this collaborative approach where we share the same vision. We also crave transparency, and this is appreciated by our partners. Finally, Acer is not an overtraded brand, we like to keep our channel small and profitable. This twinned with some excellent channel programs such as “Reliability Promise” and “Fast Track” makes us stand out amongst competition.
How effective is your channel program and what are the key features that attract your partners?
As mentioned, our program is unique in two aspects: one is the “Reliability Promise” which our partners can offer. This guarantee states that on our business range of products, if a product fails under the first year of warranty, not only will we repair it free of charge under the warranty, we will also refund the customer their full purchase price. Secondly, our “Fast Track” is a quick way to assist partners to close deals by offering them up to AED 50.00 per unit sold by just sharing some details about the deal with us. This can be used in any way the partner chooses and has proven very popular with the channel in the past.
Partners/distributors are currently dealing with some industry-wide challenges – such as credit insurance, bank finance, project financing, how do you tackle these issues and lend support to your partners?
This is a really prevalent problem at present with credit risk insurance companies tightening their terms due to the worsening economic situation and even sometimes geo-political challenges in the region constraining liquidity in the channel. Whilst, Acer is a corporate company and as such has to balance its risks, we have at a local level decided to assist as much as possible. These actions have included, intervening with Credit Insurers on behalf of our clients, taking some risk ourselves as a reinsurer, and in some cases extending payment schedules to accommodate some large deals. It is a difficult situation that we as an IT vendor cannot solve on our own. I think that finance houses have a part to play in assisting businesses over this difficult period.
Which new technologies are enabling Acer growth?
We invest a lot in R & D and proudly boast the thinnest Core i laptop and the lightest one for two years running. Our Swift 7 and the Swift 5 are our multi-award-winning laptops and we have just released the 15” screen Swift 5 – that is still under one kilogram in weight.
Another strong area for us is gaming – where our patented cooling system gives us leadership in small form factor gaming. Also, watch out for the Acer Predator Thronos which was a hit when it was released at the recent IFA event in Berlin, Germany. The full emersion gaming pod will change gamers’ experiences going forward.
Finally, the last area we are very proud of is our Chrome offering, with the recent Chrome tab finishing off our range we have a full retail, business and education line on offer which will further enhance our dominance of this market.
Last but not least, what kind of growth are you experiencing?
Recently, we have declared our Q3 results and the company has demonstrated a steady momentum of operations with net income of NT$2.5 billion, up 42.5% YoY. Our consolidated revenues were placed at NT$65.33 billion, growing 7.8% year-on-year; gross profits were NT$6.89 billion with 10.6% margin; operating income was NT$1.17 billion, marking the highest for the third quarter over eight years.