Less than two years since it officially established a presence in the region, chip manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has closed its South African office in Johannesburg.
Country manager Imi Mosaheb and channel sales executive Nia Zacharias, along with back-office staff, have all been laid off, but 5015 representatives Craig Dawson and Matthew Chetty are unaffected by the closure.
AMD cites the current global economic crisis as the main reason behind the closure and says it will revert to the agency model it previously operated under in the region.
The local AMD agent – a South African described as having "extensive AMD experience" – will be announced in the coming weeks. As in years gone by, he will report directly to Dubai where former head of the region, Gaith Kadir, once again takes up the reins. AMD South Africa used to report to the UK office within EMEA.
Kadir, head of Middle East, Turkey and Africa operations for the company, was at pains to explain that the decision was based purely on current economic conditions.
"At AMD we are transforming ourselves to be a more agile company and we are revolutionising our market structures," Kadir says. "We felt we could best serve the South African market with an agency model as we did in the past. We will continue to serve and work closely with our partners and customers in South Africa, but this will now be done through a representative rather than an official office."
Kadir refused to be drawn on who the prospective AMD representative for the territory will be, saying that both parties were busy finalising contracts.
"We're sitll busy dotting the i's and crossing the t's," he says. "But he is a very strong AMD person in terms of the technical aspects of the business. He's no stranger to the business and we're fortunate to have him in South Africa."
Kadir stresses that the company is still committed to the region and that measures have been put in place to ensure continuity and growth.
"South Africa is still a strategic country for us and our agent will report in to me on daily operations to ensure we cater for all the requirements of our customers, end users and partners," he says. "There are staff here (in Dubai) for technical support, there are business development executives who will work with our partners and support the local agent."
Quizzed on whether the move was a step back for AMD in the region, Kadir says he doesn't think so.
"On the surface some people may think so, but we reviewed our business model and decided that the new model is the way forward," he says. "There will be no reduction in support or product availability – that won't change. Our agent will have a complete staff complement in Dubai dedicated to making sure this happens."