Acer in good shape despite challenges faced by Covid-19

Paul Collins, General Manager of Acer Middle East and Africa discusses several initiatives that the company has taken to tackle the challenges faced by Covid-19 to stay in good shape

Paul Collins, General Manager of Acer Middle East and Africa

These are indeed difficult and challenging times for individuals, governments and businesses. The virus has created multiple management opportunities for Acer which can be split into two distinct areas, firstly the decisions faced in relation to “hard” issues around supply chain, routes to markets and working conditions and secondly, the management of the team, specifically relating to “work from home”, communication and HR support.

I am very pleased to say that in both regards Acer has negotiated these obstacles well and we remain open for business and in good shape.

We have maintained our supply chains with minimum delays and most of these were resolved by March as they were caused more by the extended holiday period at the factories in China. We have some delays due to increased security at country ports of entry but they are manageable and with healthy levels of local stocks we are able to meet demand in most cases.

The real issues are how do we get our products to end users. Many traditional points of purchase are closed to customers now with mall closures, and many resellers suspending or reducing their operations. Acer is fortunate that all of our distributors in the UAE are operational and are capable of importing and supplying products. We have seen a severe reduction in purchase points in the retail arena with only some Carrefour and Lulu stores being open. This being said we have maintained a very strong sales out momentum here with many people rushing to upgrade their “work, learn and entertain from home” infrastructure. We have seen a huge uptake of gaming units, monitors and higher end devices able to deliver the above requirements. Alongside this I have been really impressed with the online channel, with traditional players such as Amazon and Noon stepping up capacity, and I am very happy to report that traditional brick-and-mortar companies such as Sharaf DG and Carrefour improving tremendously in this space. I do think that the “new normal” post Covid-19 world will be far more reliant on the online experience than before.

The reseller channel has been impacted with the close down, however sales have remained robust as companies rush to make sure that they are prepared for a more digital world. Acer has also seen much interest, and many orders, from educational institutions and their resellers. One learning from this event is that the personal computer is still a very relevant and versatile device and we will see a good demand for products for the next 6 to 18 months in the region.

The challenges have meant a change in approach from Acer to meet the new business model. We have worked very hard on our forecasting with our partners, utilised our local logistics hub more than usual and looked at some financial assistance to partners to weather this storm. We do run a very tight just in time stock model which we have had to relax a little to mitigate some of the inevitable delays that we are experiencing.

In the medium to long term, I do expect good demand as companies look to make their remote infrastructure more robust and user friendly. I foresee a strong shift to Cloud-based solutions with DaaS/IaaS/SaaS being the norm rather than the exception. These more flexible solutions will insure companies against the slow and unpredictable battle against Covid-19. Acer is in the process of stocking up and launching Device as a Service to meet this demand. We are also preparing for a regional move to a one student one device model in education across the region and I feel we are best suited to meet the demand with robust lineup’s in the Windows and Chrome environments.