Founded in 1978, Darest Informatic has become one of the leading IT resellers in French-speaking Switzerland. At the end of December, ICTjournal met the management team to discuss the company and the IT market in French-speaking Switzerland. In an interview, they explain how Darest has continuously reinvented itself in the face of industry upheavals and how it continues to anticipate trends, while prioritizing human contact and customer proximity.
Darest management (from left to right): Olivier Bortolotti (Sales Director Geneva), Olivier Constant (Director Delegation-Outsourcing), Rolf Weber (Sales Manager Vaud), Steeve Maitre (General Manager), Jaco Dwek (Administrative & Financial Manager).
How did the Darest story begin?
Our company is a family business founded in 1978 and named after the founders' first names. Today, the circle of
for more than 25 years, is still associated with this spirit. Originally, Darest was positioned as a reseller of computer accessories and components. With the rise of the microcomputer industry, our business quickly evolved into the sale of the first IBM computers, then other brands such as Compaq and Hewlett Packard. At the turn of the 90s, these major manufacturers had a direct commercial relationship with a few resellers per region, of which we were one in French-speaking Switzerland. At that time, we managed a large stock and the smaller resellers had no other choice than to go through us, before the appearance of distributors on the market.
What was Darest's reaction to the emergence of these new intermediaries?
The arrival of distributors in the market led to a drastic decrease in margin. So we kept our reseller status and added integration services. The idea was to adapt to the changing market while also adding value to our already multi-sector clientele with services that filled the gap in resources and skills required to set up an IT infrastructure. Over the years, Darest has maintained its ability to react quickly to market changes. The arrival of Dell and its direct sales model was a real disruption that led other manufacturers, including our partners, to take inspiration from it. In the face of these changes, we have always made it a point of honor to stay one step ahead, at the service of our customers. First of all, at the level of workstations, network and storage, all reinforced by architects, experts
all reinforced by architects, experts in infrastructure. Darest was the first Pure Storage partner in Switzerland and is now one of the largest HP and Lenovo partners in French-speaking Switzerland. We offer a unique expertise through our IT architect consultants, which allows us to design, implement and manage on site or in the cloud the infrastructures that meet the needs of our customers. Darest currently has about 500 clients, both SMEs and large companies, in multiple sectors, such as finance, the public sector, insurance, watchmaking and humanitarian aid.
What are your advantages over the direct sales model adopted by manufacturers?
In addition to the availability of a repair center certified by HP and Lenovo, which saves precious time, our customers benefit from a close relationship with the same contact. Our knowledge of regional specificities also allows us to differentiate ourselves by guaranteeing a delivery at the right place and at the right time, in a perfectly synchronized way with the installation teams dispatched on site. This logistical dimension is not the forte of manufacturers in the context of direct sales. The large volumes we order also give us significant leeway when it comes to negotiating with distributors and offering alternatives in case of stock shortages. We benefit from all the special rates negotiated with manufacturers and software publishers in full tripartite consultation.
In what direction is your integrator services business developing?
Darest's objective today is to offer a complete range of managed services. In particular, we already offer server monitoring and back-up management. In short, we ensure the level of availability of the infrastructure of SMEs that benefit from the know-how of our experts in a mutualized way, whether it is on site or in a third-party datacenter. Our teams ensure follow-up and commit to a performance based on a range of quality indicators.
You are also active in staff delegation.
How did this activity come about?
As a Workplace specialist, we have observed the emergence of new needs among our clients around their workspaces, essentially for support. Since 1998, Darest has expanded its services to include the delegation of personnel, typically for level 1 and 2 helpdesk activities. In most cases, we place our teams at the customer's premises. We also have a "VIP" service formula that consists of providing advanced assistance to members of the management team.
In recent years, we have developed this department and now offer high-level profiles such as software developers, project managers and business analysts, who are becoming increasingly rare on the Swiss market. We support our offer by testing the skills of our candidates. We have subscriptions to several e-learning training platforms that our employees can access at any time and we make sure to maintain a respectful and close level of human supervision throughout their mission.
What impact has the Covid pandemic had on your business?
The Covid pandemic boosted our delegation activity. The massive shift to telecommuting has created a need to expand our support teams. This unprecedented context has of course also created a very strong demand for computer hardware. This boosted our hardware sales, but only for a while, before we ran into stock-out problems due to the shutdown of many factories. We were able to avoid this by ordering in advance and using our large storage capacity. In the end, the health crisis and teleworking did not increase the turnover of our hardware distribution business. However, we were able to demonstrate our logistical strengths by being able to deliver customer orders to employees' homes.
How would you like to see Darest's activities evolve?
Darest has always been able to anticipate trends and we maintain our technological watch, which is certainly essential. At the same time, we remain attentive to the market and our customers, focusing on the predominant areas of office automation and IT security. We are confident that we can continue to stand out from the online stores, thanks to the skills of our engineers, our follow-up and our value-added support. Darest is already at the forefront of the hybrid work trend, the Modern Workplace and Microsoft's Cloud solutions.
What are the drivers of your growth and what will the Darest of tomorrow look like?
We are targeting growth in all three of our business areas, trading, managed services and resource delegation, preferably organically but we are in advanced discussions to grow through the acquisition of other market players. We expect to increase our headcount in all three areas. Our ambition is to share our values, challenges and successes with our employees and customers over the long term. All of this while fully participating in the societal and environmental challenges we face. As a signatory of the INR (Institut du Numérique Responsable) charter, Darest is committed to a sustainable approach to respecting social and environmental values.
Darest Informatic in figures
Date of establishment: 1978
Number of employees: approx. 80
Turnover: approx. 40 million francs
Equity: more than 15 million francs
Charlotte Aymonier / February 2023 / © Darest Informatic SA 2022