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< previous page page_192 next page > Page 192 The products are shipped directly from factories to customers. For distribution customers, ECD acts as a broker: buying, keeping stocks and reselling them to end customers. Sub-distributors are also appointed by ECD to sell to low volume users, such as universities, other institutions and the general public. By 1989, the business environment had changed considerably. Many competitors had entered the market, competing head-on with ECD. The number of competitors had increased from about 5 to 50 in the span of six years. The competitors were very aggressive and were very successful in penetrating many of ECD's key accounts, and nowadays are enjoying substantial shares of this business arena. The market environment is getting increasingly complex, hostile and turbulent. The sales revenue for 1989 increased by 200ver the previous year but the increase in profit dropped to about
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7.5%. The cost of sales also increased tremendously. This dramatic turnaround worried
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