RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Add NetApp to the list of tech companies with large operations in the Triangle who are taking financial hits as part of the ongoing trade war between the US and China. But he’s also adding 200 sales people in a bid to increase sales performance.

George Kurian, CEO at NetApp which operates a large campus that includes a big R&D operation in RTP, described to Wall Street analysts during a confernence call to discuss the firm’s earnings, said some big customers were being hit and thus reducing spending.

Asked to break out revenues from big customers, Kurian said: “We are not going to break that out.”

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He then broached issues with China, where NetApp and Lenovo, which operates dual headquarters in Beijing and Morrisville, run a joint venture.

“I would just say that the impact of what happened during the quarter was primarily due to the fact that some of our largest global accounts that we have very strategic relationships with, you know did not spend anywhere close to what they spent last year,” he explained.

“I’ll give you an example.

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“We had two large customers that are exposed to the China tariff situation that have cut their capital spending by north of 30% year-on-year.

“Clearly we are a part of that spending profile and so I would just say that we have really good relationships with the big set of customers and we are planning to broaden those relationships to another broader set of customers over the course of the next year to 18 months.”

NetApp, Lenovo, Cisco, Cree and Quorvo are among tech companies with large operations in North Carolina that have become caught up in the trade war.

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However, Kurian was much more concerned by NetApp’s overall performance.

“I’m disappointed in our weaker than expected top line results, but I remain confident that we have the right strategy and technology to address the key market transition,” he said.

“We have a strong business model, as a result of the hard work we conducted to improve gross margin and cost structure over the last several years.”

Earlier in the call he disclosed plans to add 200 sales people in a bid to increase sales.