Vendors are not doing enough to keep partners in the loop regarding their contingency plans for the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the chief sales officer of UK VAR Hardware Group.
Andrew Humphrey said the £42m-revenue reseller has been in touch with its main vendor partners in search of clarity on how they're minimising the impact on their supply chains in the wake of disruption from the virus.
"Vendors are telling us very little, if I'm brutally honest," he said.
"I think the issue will get worse before it's better, because at the minute lots of vendors have a lot of stock still in distribution. And that stock is starting to disappear now, especially after the Chinese New Year with things not getting back into distribution in the UK."
Humphrey said that by latest accounts, lead times with some vendors have risen from three to four weeks to three to four months.
The HP, Dell and Juniper partner has also been appealing to its distributor partner Tech Data for more information.
"We speak to Tech Data and their stock levels are really low now, and they're being told about long lead times. But if I go and speak to our vendors, they'll say ‘well, it's not just you, it's every partner. So there's not much we can do about it'," he said.
"I've looked at whether we can source from outside the UK as well from other distributors, but the vendors aren't particularly receptive to that approach. I think for them it would cause revenue recognition issues, so I don't think we'll get a great deal of support."
Humphrey went so far as saying that he thinks some smaller partners may even go bust as a result of the pandemic.
"I do think there'll be a few casualties from smaller firms with poorer balance sheets over the next couple of months," he said.
We approached Tech Data for comment, and it issued a statement saying that it is working to mitigate service disruptions to the channel.
"In addition to ensuring we have adequate supply to accommodate potential disruptions, we are monitoring vendor backlogs and shipment and delivery acknowledgement dates," the statement reads.
"We have seen some cases of delayed delivery dates for customers and an increase in demand across a number of technology lines. However, we feel we have the right inventory levels across our portfolio and the right level of open orders with our vendors for the foreseeable future. We remain in close communication with our vendors to monitor the situation and will continue to provide our business partners with updates appropriately and promptly."
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