A Steady Ship

Following the loss of industry veteran Julian Niman earlier this year there have been questions emerging about the future of comms distribution specialist Nimans. David Dungay took the time to speak to Sales Director Richard Carter about the structure of the company moving forwards.

Comms Business Magazine (CBM): Can you give me a snapshot of where Nimans is currently in terms of headcount, turnover etc?

Richard Carter (RC): We finished 2017 a little over £120 million in turnover with over 6000 customers. We have achieved significant growth over the last year through the acquisition of Pennine, a significant chunk of that was the distribution agreements for Yealink SIP phones.

Throughout the year we increased the size of the warehouse by 50% and we also increased the number of positions/ staff. We are up to 385 staff now, 10% of those are new positions created in the last year.

CBM: Where are you seeing your organic growth come from?

RC: We have had growth across all of our business divisions but the significant growth points are across the major accounts section of the business, where the big carriers sit, and in the System Integrators arm where the likes of Computacenter, Softcat, and those sorts of companies reside.

This growth is primarily been driven by large Skype for Business projects. Our part of those projects is supplying the UC endpoints. That includes headsets, handsets and conference units for the SI or carrier which they supply into the end user.

Interestingly, the growth in Skype for Business is not in an area where our resellers traditionally sit. These are very large projects which go from about 1000 to 20,000 users. This isn’t the area your typical reseller sits with their phone systems sales. We are not seeing anything in Skype for Business which is impacting the Channel at all yet. However, I do expect that to change. I think we will see some impact on the Channel space this year but it will be quite gradual I think. They aren’t going to come in and take a huge chunk of on-premise or cloud hosted sales for example.

CBM: Sadly Julian is no longer with us, can you tell our audience about the impact of that on the long term objectives of the company now?

RC: The long term key objectives for the business is quite simply to deliver sustained and profitable growth. That has been the key objective since day one, if we look back on history, with the exception of the year when we had the financial crash, we have achieved growth in every single year. That’s 32 out of 33 years we have grown!

Nothing has really changed at the management level, we have the same strong and experienced board. The board has been taking the day to day strategic decisions of the company for quite some time. Julian was absolutely involved in the business right up until the end but more from a steering way rather than a day to day. The board will be picking up what we lost on that front.

There isn’t an involvement of the family in the business moving forwards. Julian’s majority shareholding has been passed to his family but the board holds the rest of the shares. The board consists of 4 individuals, we are adding two more the board at some point in the near future. They currently sit at C-level within the business.

We haven’t appointed a head of the board yet, but that will happen in due course.

CBM: Very much a business as usual message then?

RC: Absolutely, we are the same people with the same core values which runs throughout the business. We have an incredible retention of staff, when I say it is business as usual it’s because the board members have been with the business from between 10 and 33 years! If you look at the staff as a whole, 50% have been with us more than 5 years, 35% have been with us more than ten years. That’s why our culture is so strong, it’s engrained and enables us to continue to strive and build the business Julian set out to build all those years ago.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine