In a surprising move yesterday, printer vendor Lexmark International signed up ChannelWare as its third distributor in South Africa – this despite the fact that its current distributors, Axiz and Sahara, have not only "over-achieved" on Lexmark's local targets, but in at least one instance, doubled business.

ChannelWare, formerly Storgate, is a re-invented distributor in the MB Technologies group which is actively signing up brand vendors currently not associated with other group distributors such as Tarsus. Its close proximity to Ingram Micro SA – it shares the same offices and certain infrastructure – seems to be boosting its popularity among vendors, particularly those from the US.
Vendors it has signed up include Brocade, Business Objects, Crystal Reporting, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, InfoTrend, Oracle, Philips, Promise, Symantec and Quantum.
In the official press release announcing the deal, ChannelWare MD Tony Galvao says: "Lexmark embodies our strategy to deliver a broad-based solutions-orientated product to the market with their reputable product range known for setting technology trends. Our partnership will secure growth for ChannelWare partners and their customers by giving them access to Lexmark’s solutions through skilled and trained product managers and sales people."
While questions might arise about the reasons for Lexmark signing up an additional distributor, the unofficial explanation is that ChannelWare will "help it fill a gap it feels it has in the market", according to one source.
Again, in the official release, Lexmark's local MD, Branislav Zivkovic, says that ChannelWare strategically aligns with Lexmark’s global objective to match consumer and business’ information technology needs and demands with the latest in document management technology.
"Lexmark’s continuous commitment to develop the channel, combined with the expertise of ChannelWare, will strengthen the channel’s offering to their customers, as well as the Lexmark brand in the marketplace," says Zivkovic, "and we look forward to an exciting and fruitful business relationship."
As one wag pointed out: "Curiouser and curiouser."