BenQ will have a wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary starting sometime in 2004, an executive has confirmed.

Formerly known as Acer Peripherals, BenQ has also named Peter Lee as its sole Canadian representative in Canada, according to BenQ CEO Ralph Tang in an exclusive interview. Lee will be

stationed in Toronto, Tang said, and will work with BenQ’s channel partners. AM&A, a manufacturer’s representative firm based in Montreal, has also been retained by BenQ to handle the Canadian market. AM&A will work together with Lee as a two-man operation in Canada for BenQ.

“”We need to provide faster response to customers and better service, and the only way to do that is to have our own people stationed in the local market,”” Tang said.

Acer Peripherals introduced the BenQ brand last year in order to differentiate it from the other Acer companies.

Tang envisions an office of four to five people at BenQ Canada next year.

Currently, Tang and his team at BenQ, based in City of Industry, Calif., are working on building a basic infrastructure here. This includes striking long-term partnerships with channel partners in retail and in distribution. The company has already lined up ALC Micro, Comtronic, Daiwa, Supercom and Synnex Canada as distribution partners.

“”What I believe in is if you are not well established with basic fundamentals of business you will not go for long. It is a step-by-step achievement in Canada,”” Tang said.

The company also launched a cash-back incentive program for LCD and projector resellers in the U.S. called Q-rewards. The program will only be available in Canada to projector resellers, however. The plan will see BenQ reward partners with actual dollars and not points based on sales performance.

“”The reason (why Q-rewards is primarily U.S.-based) is at this moment we believe end users (in Canada) would like to get reasonable prices. The market behaviour is different in Canada than the U.S. market and competition in Canada is different. Most (LCD) vendors go straight to market with a price that is as low as possible to attract customers,”” Tang said.

He added that if the situation changes, the full program would be rolled out in Canada.

One of the strategies BenQ uses for the Canadian market is called the MAP system, or minimum advertised pricing, where the price is controlled in every tier before it reaches the customer.

“”We try to control the overall price in the Canadian market so that No. 1 the end customer has a quality product at a reasonable price and also to make sure the channel partner has enough margin to perform their job,”” he said.

BenQ is also targeting the education market in Canada with a Canadian universities-based campaign to deliver BenQ products to freshmen.

Tang said he has a high regard for Canadian consumers, calling them a highly educated type of buyer.

“”The Canadian customer is not just looking for a brand that has been well established. They are willing to try something new if it is good quality and at a reasonable price,”” he said.

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