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Ideal selects Rotterdam for European beachhead

Declines to challenge restrictive clauses

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Ideal Hardware has burst through restrictive distribution contracts, in a full-blooded assault on the European systems builders market. The UK's biggest data storage distributor has opened a warehouse in Rotterdam, enabling it to promise next day delivery to "anywhere in Europe", while reducing its own distribution costs. It is prepared to sell products from its entire product range, either through its relatively few pan-European franchises, or by sourcing on the grey market. The company says it will abide by contract clauses which forbid wholesaling products on official (and more favourable) distribution terms outside the UK -- even though these clauses are illegal under European competition law. "There are supposed to be no barriers to trading in Europe, "European sales director Alex Tatham said. "But in practice many vendors operate restrictive distribution contracts," he said. b"And the way certain companies structure their distribution makes it virtually impossible for them to award pan-European franchises." Ideal had no intention of challenging restrictive terms in court, he said. Instead the company would continue to press for pan-European distribution rights. Currently, the company has agreements in place with AMD, Network Associates and Fujitsu. The company is majoring its entire storage portfolio accors Europe, including Fujitsu, Samsung, Panasonic, Hitachi and IBM. Ideal's European sales are currently on a £100 million a year run-rate, derived mostly from systems builders and distributors, according to Tatham. The company runs a multinational European sales team out of its Chessington, Surrey headquarters. ® For more stories click here

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