IT&e culls the ranks

ASX-listed e-commerce and distribution group IT&e has joined the list of public technology companies shedding staff after letting 11 head office and administration staff go this week.

Dean Wilson, executive director of IT&e, said the retrenchment of 11 staff from "newly created positions" was a "cost-cutting" exercise brought about by the company's falling share price.

"Those positions were created by our recently departed CEO and we just don't need those people," Wilson said. "Over half of the staff dismissed had been with the company less than six weeks.

"We have operational offices in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, as well as the head office in Melbourne. The staff that have been let go were not from our sales or services staff, they were all from head office and administration."

With IT&e having listed earlier his year, Wilson said there is a whole new wave of challenges which the group is coming to grips with. He said analysts had recently incorrectly bundled IT&e in with a whole group of dot-com companies that are suffering at the hands of investors due to diminishing cash stocks.

"You are damned if you do and damned if you don't," Wilson said. "We were criticised for having too much inventory and too many outstanding debts. Our share price suffered as a result.

"What [the analysts] didn't mention is that the inventory we held was a large amount of Apple stock purchased at a discount and our largest debtor was the Commonwealth Bank. Apple stock is always going to sell through while the CBA is what I would call a blue-chip debtor."

Wilson also said IT&e is in the process of negotiating several acquisitions.

"The acquisitions are still being negotiated but not in a traditional manner," he said. "We are moving away from the traditional distribution model. We are trying to be a niche distributor with six or seven product lines that allow for significant value to be added. This figure has been reduced from 20."

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