Apple UK is revising elements of its agreements with existing UK reseller channels in moves which some say threaten their profit margins.
Apple doesn't agree. Managing director of Apple UK Mark Rogers explained the company's new deals: "We are amalgamating two back margins into one back margin with the effect of reducing the total possible achievable margin by one per cent."
Discussing the move – which combines Apple's value and volume rebates into a new "performance" rebate – Rogers explained that in order to achieve the highest possible rebate, dealers must 100 per cent meet certain agreed criteria. "Only those achieving 100 per cent success could expect to receive that one per cent," he said.
Despite this, some resellers have expressed concern that the move may hurt the volume resellers, or effectively reduce margin. Rogers does not believe that is the case.
The actual effect of the change on Apple UK's reseller channels should be minimal, he believes. Amalgamating the two rebates makes sense because it means Apple can develop achievable rebates that suit a particular reseller's business, Rogers said.
Some resellers offer value-added services, such as special knowledge on particular topics, while others maintain volume-based businesses – selling a lot of Macs.
The rebate structure means: "We can be more flexible with the targets that we set with resellers, taking into account the nature of their business," Rogers said.
He believes the new performance rebates are: "Overall a better tool for us to agree with the reseller a more effective performance criteria related to their business activity."
The new deals are tweaks to a system Apple put in place last year, when the company worked to establish new terms and conditions that favoured the "development of the best possible buying experience for customers," Rogers then explained.
Though many dealers complained of the changes at that time, the agreements made have had a positive effect, Rogers told Macworld this morning: "Goals we agreed with resellers have been achieved," he explained.
"There has been movement, and there have been some beneficial results from Apple and its resellers working together," he said.
Some resellers have also complained that the cost of training engineers (who must pass an annual exam to prove their skills) has increased by almost two-thirds (for a full course) this year.
Apple UK's MD explained: "The situation with training is that two years ago ExplorIT delivered it. It took 14 days and cost £4,500.
"Last year we appointed Amsys to provide training. They ran an introductory offer for the first year: courses ran for seven days and cost around £1,400," he said.
"This year Amsys have returned to the full commercial rate of £2,400. It is a better course and still last seven days," he explained, stressing Apple's belief that, "the course being offered by Amsys is much more effective."
Rogers also pointed to Apple's recent moves to "make it possible for engineers to take online courses" and the "amount of technical information" available to service providers.
"We're actually simplifying the process of training engineers," he claimed.