Brocker demise 'amazes' former supplier

The Brocker Technology Group has gone from "doing a tremendous job" for supplier Novell to being out of business in the space of 12 months.

The Brocker Technology Group has gone from “doing a tremendous job” for supplier Novell to being out of business in the space of 12 months.

The company, which was the parent of defunct IT distribution company Sealcorp, said last week it was shutting up shop in New Zealand with the loss of 20 jobs. They include that of chief executive Richard Justice.

Novell New Zealand head Peter Revell says the turnaround in Brocker’s fortunes is amazing.

“I genuinely don’t know what went wrong,” says Revell of the company which, through Sealcorp, in 2000 accounted for more than a third of Novell sales.

Brocker’s Justice, who headed the company for two years but worked within the group in a variety of finance roles for eight years, says a series of occurrences brought about its downfall.

“There was no single circumstance that led to this.”

But Justice says the loss through fraud of several million dollars by the company’s Australian operation had a significant impact. The subsequent closure of Sealcorp Australia made Sealcorp New Zealand unviable, he says.

At its peak, Sealcorp employed about 250 people in New Zealand and had total turnover of about $200 million. Sealcorp was put into liquidation earlier this year, owing suppliers including Novell and Compaq millions of dollars.

Revell says a six-figure sum was owed to Novell, which he has no expectation of recovering.

Sealcorp Australia had distributed Novell products until July last year, sharing the agency with Tech Pacific and Express Data. Revell says the decision to drop Sealcorp Australia was made before the fraud was exposed.

“The Australian thing was a body blow,” says Revell. He thinks the fact that Sealcorp management didn’t see it coming calls into question the company’s governance.

But Justice refutes any suggestion that mismanagement led to Brocker’s demise. Apart from the fraud, which is still under investigation, he says the collapse of technology stocks just as Brocker listed on the US Nasdaq exchange was a blow.

Brocker’s head office is in Canada, where the company is also listed. It continues to operate Fiji-based IT reseller business Datec and is negotiating with management the sale of its Certus professional services business.

Certus employs 20 people in Auckland and Wellington.

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