Aussies enter IT auction wars

The auction market for IT cast-offs is hotting up in New Zealand with the arrival of an Australian interloper.

Hymans NZ, which is the Kiwi offshoot of an Australian auction house of the same name, says IT managers should use auction houses to get a return on unwanted equipment. Customers such as resellers or the general public can pick up bargains, according to Matthew Preen, general manager of Hymans NZ.

Preen, who was formerly northern region sales director for software company Infinity Solutions, claims his company is New Zealand's only specialist IT auctioneer, though this is disputed by Hamilton-based Asset Computer Auctions. Asset claims to have operated for eight or nine years.

Six weeks ago, Hymans began fortnightly sales in Penrose, Auckland, claiming a minimum of 500 lots each time. Suppliers include major corporates like Fujitsu, resellers and integration companies. Buyers are mainly the public and dealers, with much stock re-exported to Asia.

Preen said that by earning revenue for unwanted stock that will no longer take up valuable office space, sending items to auction will earn "brownie points" for the IT manager. He says a P2 350MHz system with 128MB of RAM and a 4GB hard drive sells for about $250. They sell in working condition, and come with a warranty and wiped hard drives.

If the Auckland house runs short of stock it can be imported from Australia, and vice versa. The company is planning auction roadshows across the country in the coming year and opening auction houses in Wellington and Christchurch, Preen said.

Nicholas Down, director of rival Asset Computer Auctions, said he is the only IT specialist in Australasia, and pointed out that Hymans also sells machinery.

Down, who has worked in the IT industry for 20 years including time at Imagineering, said Asset stages roadshow auctions every week. These attract 300 people across the country and sell over 1,000 PCs a month, plus printers, scanners and the like.

Down accused his new rivals of being in the market for "a play". However, he accepted the market is big enough for both of them, plus the generalist auctioneers like Turners, who often sell IT equipment.

Preen replied by pointing out the New Zealand operation will only deal in IT, while admitting the decades-old Australian parent makes a third of its revenue on non-IT sales. He said Hymans operates in a different market to Asset, "but I can't really say how".

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