So far, 2010 has been a busy year for Meroncourt Europe. Since January the distributor has added seven new vendors to its portfolio, and is due to launch a number of new ranges into the market before Christmas.
The Hertfordshire-based firm has come a long way from the early days when it simply acted as a customer service centre for imaging vendor Agfa. “Michael Mason formed the company in 1993 and I joined in the first week as a consultant for the business and I’ve been here every since,” says sales director Steve Walsh.
Back then there were only a handful of staff, but the firm quickly grew as it began to offer refurbished Agfa products. “That’s when customers started asking what else we could sell them – new stuff and current lines,” says Walsh. “And then [peripherals vendor] Speedlink approached us and asked if we could represent them in the UK.”
Since signing Speedlink, Meroncourt has landed exclusive deals with vendors including Sitecom, Roccat, Ozone and more recently Ricatech, as well as a non-exclusive agreement with storage specialist Buffalo Technology. So how does the distributor go about choosing its partners?
“We do a lot of research before we decide to bring new brands into the UK. Normally they have something else to bring to the market, eithertechnically or visually. It’s no good bringing in things that look the same as someone else’s but with a different brand label,” Walsh comments.
“The reason Buffalo was interested in us is that we tend to work in areas that the larger distributors don’t concentrate on, so it opens up new opportunities for Buffalo products.”
Meroncourt, which moved into its current premises in Letchworth six years ago, now has 15 employees. The firm shipped over 400,000 units last financial year, and expects to see about the same again this year, if not more. “We’ve got the busiest quarter coming up, so we may well exceed that,” Walsh says.
The distributor’s customer base ranges from independent retailers to e-tail powerhouses Amazon, Play.com and eBuyer, and, thanks in part to its drop-shipping facility, covers not only Europe but countries including the US, Australia and China.
A large part of Meroncourt’s portfolio consists of PC gaming peripherals, a sector Walsh believes is going from strength to strength. “A lot of people said PC gaming would never grow because it’s so niche, but in actual fact it’s been one of the fastest growing sectors of IT ever and still continues to show a lot of growth,” he says. “The brands that we represent truly focus on PC gaming itself, so their product ranges are aimed at and designed for gamers.”
Another sizeable chunk of the distributor’s business is taken up by storage and networking devices, but according to Walsh the firm is increasingly turning its attention to licensed products, with Disney and X Factor lines due later in the year. “Licensed products should be a significant growth area for us,” Walsh concludes.