On the same day its former parent Merisel Inc. posted a second quarter net loss of US$23.9 million, Merisel Canada, now under the Synnex umbrella, signed Handspring Canada to an exclusive partnership agreement.

Handspring Canada, which has an existing partnership with Hartco of Montreal for its retail business, inked Merisel Canada because of similar philosophies, according to Jim Mandala, director of Canadian sales for Handspring.

“Merisel is strong in education and the university bookstores really need to have access to our products. On the straight VAR side they are as good as any other distributor with their relationships with the top VARs. We have targeted the top 50 or so VARs as Handspring resellers. At this point the need to have one distributor is all we are looking for,” Mandala said.

Handspring Canada was also negotiating with Ingram Micro Canada to be its first distributor in Canada. “At this point, I do not have any plans to add another distributor, but if things really grow we will go ahead (and add another distributor). Merisel is our exclusive distributor now and we are going to leave it at that,” he added.

Off the bat, Merisel Canada will try to push Handspring products like Visor to sales and field force automation, education, health care and financial markets, said Todd Bercovitch, director of product marketing for Merisel Canada. He added that Merisel is currently working on new programs and promotions for the subsidiary.

Merisel Canada, which also carries Palm, Compaq’s Ipaq, HP’s Jornada and Casio’s Cassiopedia, believes they can grow Handspring’s business in Canada by an annual revenue of $20 to $25 million, Bercovitch said.

Mandala said that with Merisel’s help Handspring can experience a dramatic revenue increase, although it is too early to forecast how much. “I think to say that this is the biggest single announcement since we launched into Canada is the way I feel about this relationship. I still believe the independent VAR/retail channel is much stronger here than anywhere else. . . .

“The potential for Handspring product through distribution network will be strong and we can expand our market share in Canada to grow extremely quickly over the next quarter with Merisel on board. It has been the one missing link that will drive our sales here in Canada,” Mandala said.

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