Stone stands by schools with RM customer rescue plan

Staffs-based PC supplier Stone Group insists education remains a “core growth market” as it puts together a rescue package for customers left in limbo by RM’s decision to exit the sector

Stone Group, one of the last remaining PC builders active in the UK, has insisted it will stand by the education market following RM’s decision to exit the market with the loss of 300 jobs.

The Staffs-based firm had previously expressed bemusement when RM announced its PC business was folding, saying that the education market remained “dynamic” and that it was seeing increased activity and plentiful net new business from Academies and Free Schools.

“Additionally, with changes to the curriculum in 2014, there will be greater emphasis on computing within education and in turn, a greater need for advanced PC equipment,” commented CEO Simon Harbridge. “We continue to see education as a core growth market for us.”

Stone claims to have shipped 140,000 hardware devices in 2012, split evenly between desktop and mobile kit. Its turnover for the same period grew by just under 13% to £73.7m, and gross profits were up 1.4% to £13.1m.

The firm has just announced a number of offerings aimed specifically at RM customers left stranded, and said it was “on a mission to reassure the industry that … [we] are poised to help with ongoing support during this time of change”.

Its aggressive plan includes a £100 rebate on any functional RM machine traded in for a Stone PC; a set of free utilities to guarantee Stone devices will work properly on RM’s proprietary network management software; and flexible payment schemes, offering payment deferral to fit in with public sector budgets. Stone will also undertake maintenance and support duties for customers that want to continue to run RM hardware.

Meanwhile, for those that want to straight-up replace their RM CC3/CC4 network with a vanilla implementation, Stone said its buy-now-pay-later and rebate promos will apply to server-side tech as well.

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