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Distributors playing increasingly important role in the supply of ICT products

Europe’s leading distributors increased their share of the supply chain, growing their revenues by an average of 5.4% while overall the ICT industry grew by just 0.3% according to the latest research from IT Europa and Gartner respectively. The ICT industry has been changing fast with Managed Services and Cloud-based applications driving much of the growth and the Distribution sector would seem to be evolving to address this shift.

IT Europa’s latest database report: Distributors in Europe – the top 500 provides in-depth profiles of Europe’s leading distributors including: 20 parent companies, 144 subsidiaries, 314 independents, and 22 publicly-listed companies. The total revenues for all companies in 2015 was $143bn (€ with a total staff figure of 103,034. Overall, total revenues of all companies increased 5.42% in 2016 (based on 2016 revenues) compared to the previous year. 

The report describes an industry that is changing fast; while consolidation and organic growth are making for economies of scale, and portfolios are expanding, the costs of doing business in the world of complex services and emerging technologies is increasing. The larger distributors, who have been advancing the cause of New Distribution with cloud and other services, analytics, IoT and other added areas, have invested in staff and training, as the numbers employed in the top 500 in Europe has risen to over 103,000 from just over 100,000 in the last study.

The twenty-plus publicly quoted distributors in Europe managed to lift their sales in 2016 by just 2.58%, while smaller independents did over 10% better. The best countries for distributor growth were smaller ones - Ukraine (29.79%), Denmark (28.71%), Austria (17.68%), Macedonia (14.07%), and Latvia (13.05%), although some of these were in a recovery phase after poor previous years due to economic and political factors. The UK overall experienced growth of 6% - higher than the European average of 5.4%. 

The rapid consolidation as larger operations merge (Tech Data buying the TS business of Avnet, for example) and as fast growing mid-sized operations such as Exertis snap up smaller specialists, makes comparisons less easy, but the conclusion has to be that distribution as a model is growing in influence. The year also saw the emergence of new firms, with specific markets and technologies in mind, as investment funds have become available for well-managed distribution businesses.

While the headlines have been about New Distribution and two-tier services, the story is also one of continued growth of traditional lines, with hardware remaining a key sector in the portfolio of most distributors.

In terms of distributors’ software offering, the most common type of software distributed was Network / Security / VPN Software (68%); followed by office software (54.4%); and storage software (38.4%). The most common type of hardware distributed was Networking Hardware (72.2%); followed by PC Accessories & Consumables (70.2%); Enterprise Storage & Other Data Storage (67.2%); and PCs/Notebooks/Laptops/ Non-Windows PCs (57.8%).

The Distributors in Europe – the top 500 database report spans 38 countries and represents the most detailed view available of this key market sector. It has been compiled from detailed interviews by IT Europa’s own research team. The company profiles include sales figures for each company in local currency and US dollars, contact details for key executives, major hardware and software vendor relationships, ownership details and company overview. The report is available from IT Europa ( costing from £2,350. Data can also be extracted and supplied by country, region or on a bespoke basis.

For further information and to see a sample from the Distributors in Europe – The Top 500 market intelligence database report, please contact:

Stephen Osborne

Tel:+44 (0) 1895 454 536