Hewlett-Packard and OfficeMax announced a deal Monday that will make HP the sole brand of computers sold through the office products chain. HP replaces Gateway, which said last month it was retreating from a deal that put Gateway Country stores inside 1,000 OfficeMax stores.
Under the multiple-year deal with HP, OfficeMax will have display models of HP computers and a kiosk that allows people to customize and order an HP computer online. OfficeMax, which will also sell HP computers through its OfficeMax.com Web site, will get a percentage of each computer sale, OfficeMax spokesman Steve Baisden said.
In most cases, there won't be any inventory of HP computers in the store.
"There may be some seasonal periods where we will have inventory," Baisden said.
HP already has kiosks in Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy and Circuit City, but all of those deals are nonexclusive, with HP having to compete for online sales with other brands.
"That is one of the big benefits we see in this arrangement," HP marketing manager Mark Sanchez said.
OfficeMax is in the process of winding down its relationship with Gateway and expects to have the HP kiosks in its stores by July or August, in time for the back-to-school season.
OfficeMax received inquiries from several PC makers after Gateway reversed course, Baisden said. He added that OfficeMax executives were pretty sure they did not want to carry inventory in stores, similar to the deal with Gateway.
To cut costs, Gateway has been pulling back in general from its focus on selling computers through stores. In addition to pulling out of OfficeMax, the PC maker has closed a number of its standalone Gateway Country stores this year.