Tandberg gets sheepish with channel

Tape drive and storage manufacturer Tandberg Data has come under fire from angry distributors after it sacked its Pacific Rim sales director and appointed Datastor New Zealand as its exclusive distributor in Australia and New Zealand.

The Norwegian vendor shocked local distributors after it closed its office in Sydney, and informed T Data, Peridata and Digital Tape Solutions (DTS) the company will be represented in Australia by New Zealand-based distributor Datastor NZ.

The announcement means competing Australian distributors will have to buy through Datastor NZ - a prospect they are not happy with.

"It stinks. How the hell can I buy from a competitor? How will we know what they are holding back?" questioned Divo Cipriani [subbed], managing director of Peridata. Peridata has been distributing Tandberg for over 12 years and is infuriated by the vendor's decision.

Cipriani claimed Tandberg was acting inappropriately in appointing Datastor, but does not begrudge Vic Dickerson, managing director of Datastor New Zealand.

"My problem with Tandberg is they should be responsible [for their channel strategy]. Vic [Dickerson] is a businessman and he takes an opportunity wherever he can. I don't have a problem with him at all. Tandberg has acted disgracefully," said Cipriani.

"Their ineptitude and un-professionalism is messing up the channel," he added.

Dickerson denies Datastor will be representing Tandberg or that Australian distributors will experience any change to existing pricing structures. Instead Dickerson intends to establish a new company specifically to represent Tandberg's interests in the two countries. The company is yet to be named but Dickerson expects it to be operational by the end of the month.

"I cannot be seen to be biased," claimed Dickerson. "I wouldn't do it to any of these guys because it wouldn't be fair."

The news was also not welcomed by DTS's general manager David Davoren, who told ARN the distributor would continue to sell the remaining Tandberg stock it has, but will not be ordering any more.

"They are inferring that Datastor will be their representative in Australia, and I told them this is unacceptable - we won't deal through another distributor," said Davoren.

At the time of press Kim Nielsen, Pacific Rim sales director of Tandberg Data, was negotiating his settlement with Tandberg and refused to comment.

Read the full story in ARN this week (December 13, 2000, p.1)

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