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Big bounce for circular IT

Circular IT specialist on lookout for UK resellers to join its Circular Partner Programme

The rush to home working prior to the March 23 lockdown generated massive demand for laptops, computer monitors and other essential tech items.

Analysis by research company Context shows that in the four weeks to April 5, there was a 45% rise in the value of mobile computing sales through IT distribution in the UK & Ireland, compared to the same period last year. There were also big increases for smart home & office (53%), desktop computing (23%), displays (16%) and computer accessories (13%).

The combination of surging demand and supply shortages caused by China’s own lockdown in February and March has forced many companies to seek alternatives to new devices, from reactivating their own decommissioned laptops to buying professionally refurbished equipment.

One beneficiary of this trend is Flex IT Distribution, which works closely with vendors such as HP, Dell, Apple and Lenovo, buying their excess stock and refurbishing older laptops, servers and mobile devices, which it grades from ‘minus 1’ to ‘minus 10’ (the former being just one iteration below the latest model).

Products are supplied with warranties ranging from one year to three years for the Approved Selection Line and sold through a network of channel partners in the Netherlands (where Flex IT is based), France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the UK (since 2012), as well as Poland, Bulgaria, Finland and Sweden where the company has a smaller presence.

Growing demand
Flex IT CEO Leon Timmermans says demand for the company’s products has grown significantly since March.

“In the last month particularly, the market has exploded. Everybody is suddenly realising that the quality and function of a product is more important than it being the latest, shiniest version. A laptop might be five years old, but you can still use it to do whatever you need to do. Demand has accelerated like crazy over the last eight weeks as firms recognise the quality of products available in the circular market,” he said.

“Large resellers across our key geographies are now coming to us, rather than us going to them, asking if we can supply 1,000 laptops here or 1,000 there, because vendors were at the point of zero production in China and many companies had employees that worked off desktops in the office and no way of working remotely.”

Flex IT is eager to work with more resellers in the UK and Timmermans is encouraging interested parties willing to make the necessary investment to get in touch.

“Resellers must want to invest in the circular programme. It is a new concept for many, so they will need to train their sales people and convince their vendor partners that it will not eat into sales of new products, but instead will work alongside the traditional sales model,” he said.

“There seems to be an upswing in new sales from our partners as soon as they introduce the circular product line. This is because our partners are able to offer solutions at every price level without neglecting quality.”

To find out more about the three-tier Flex IT Circular Partner Programme, please visit:

Four pillars

Flex IT Distribution, originally part of the Infotheek Group, was formerly known as Xeptor before changing its name in January 2019 following a group-wide review. The private equity-backed firm is now run as an independent business unit with a strategic focus on circular and eco-sustainable hardware solutions.

Targeting 50% growth over the next three years, Flex IT Distribution has four main business activities:

1 Circular IT Sales. Accounting for around 50% of revenue – maybe as much as 65% in the current climate – this includes the sale of vendors’ excess stock and refurbished laptops, mobile devices, storage and servers through a European network of 200 resellers, SMB partners, e-tailers and retailers.

2 ITAD (IT Asset Disposal). This scheme allows firms to dispose of any old or unwanted devices and use their residual value to purchase new equipment at a discount. Flex IT carries out this service on behalf of reseller partners and then refurbishes unwanted equipment for resale, bringing them ‘full circle’.

3 Rental. The supply of temporary IT equipment to trade fairs, exhibitions, workshops, seminars and other events. With Covid-19, this service is increasingly used by businesses wanting to hire large quantities of mobile devices to cater for remote working during the lockdown, with the option to buy.

4 Demo. Flex IT has demo facilities in its core countries that can be used to demonstrate vendor solutions to customers and facilitate sales for reseller partners. As with Rental, all new and used equipment bought and sold through this facility is integrated back into the circular model once it is no longer required.

Flex IT currently employs around 350 people across the business, including 120 specialist Circular IT sales experts. It has key vendor partnerships with HP (Flex IT is an HP certified refurbishment and rental partner), Dell, Apple, Cisco and Lenovo and a growing relationship with Samsung.

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