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HID`s failure leads to new UK sales structure for Hitachi
Published:  01 November, 2003

HID`s failure leads to new UK sales structure for Hitachi

New arrangements have been set up for selling and servicing Hitachi drives and controls in the UK, after the company`s former UK distributor, HID, went into administrative receivership in October.

Two ex-HID employees - sales director Stuart Harvey and technical director Philip Larkin - have formed a new company, called Silverteam, which will act as the agency for Hitachi automation products in the UK. The agency will service Hitachi customers and look after their interests, but will not handle products or set up accounts.

Silverteam will focus on supporting OEMs and large end-users, but these customers` business dealings will be direct with Hitachi Europe.

A regional distribution network is being set up to deal with smaller customers. Five of these stock-holding distributors have been appointed already, and three of them - Technidrive in Northern Ireland, Dicksons in Ireland, and NET in Nottingham - were previously sub-distributors for HID. Two new distributors are Lowestoft-based System Control Solutions (SCS), which will serve East Anglia, and Lockwell Electrics in Tewkesbury, which will look after the West Country. Two or three more distributors will be appointed.

Hitachi is helping to get Silverteam going and is paying the company`s salaries and set-up costs. "It is 100% committed," says Harvey.

He adds that once the new arrangements are established, Hitachi will probably take a controlling stake in Silverteam and use it as the basis for its own UK operation. Hitachi already has such an arrangement for Hitachi Drives and Automation in Germany, and the UK business may adopt the same name.

This possibility has been confirmed by Wolfgang Wulff, Hitachi`s AC drives sales manager for Europe. "We would like more control," he told Drives & Controls. It takes time for decisions of this type to be made because they have to be approved by Hitachi`s president.

Silverteam will initially have four employees - all ex-HID - and the company will be based at new premises in Great Yarmouth, close to HID`s former offices. Nine jobs will have been lost as a result of HID`s collapse.The new arrangements do not include HID`s founders and joint managing directors, Stephen and Barry Scales.

Harvey says that the new operation will support former HID customers, adding that most of them that he has spoken to, have been pleased with the new arrangements. He is confident that the new structure will avoid the problems encountered by HID. He says that these problems "were not created by Hitachi" and were "not a pricing problem".

The new business could face competition from Manchester-based Power Drive Services (PDS), which has bought HID`s assets and stock from the liquidator. Phone calls to HID`s old number are being redirected to PDS, which has been selling Hitachi-built drives for more than ten years.

In the past, PDS has sold Hitachi products badged for the Austrian company Watt Drive, but Hitachi now appears to be blocking this route. However, Power Drive Services` managing director Mark Butler claims he has several other sources of supply for Hitachi products and says he will offer "the best pricing on the market". PDS` sales manager, Bill Humphries, is a former HID employee..

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