Originally formed to serve parent company Marston’s PLC, the telecom’s division (Marston’s Telecoms) has grown from strength to strength. In more recent years, Marston’s has been working with partners across a broad portfolio of products. Head of Telecoms, Rob Derbyshire, caught up with Comms Business to share his latest plans for the Channel.
CB: Being a part of the Marston’s Group, why does this matter to partners?
RD: Initially we were set up to serve the pub side of the business which has actually given us an incredible platform to build on – supporting an £800m business demands a certain standard. Also, all of our products have been selected to serve the parent business and we have installed and maintained them ourselves. As a result, our products are great and we are specialists at delivering them.
Obviously the wider Marston’s Group is a huge company with some pretty deep pockets. Being a Marston’s company gives us a very stable footing in the market, especially when it comes to future investment. We aren’t looking to demerge from the Group, we won’t go bust, and we can effectively leverage that position which is a massive advantage for resellers.
CB: You mention investment? What exactly are you doing on that front?
RD: There are several things going on right now. Our portal is currently in the next phase of development to enable us to serve our partners in the way they need. Provisioning is always that tricky balance between treating connectivity as a commodity and also hand holding partners. That will be ready to show partners in the next few months.
The really big investment that is going on right now is around the core network which Marston’s Telecoms is currently upgrading. We’re moving to large chassis based core routers which will give us significant growth headroom.
We have also acquired a dark fibre network in London. This will give us the opportunity to not just own and control our own network infrastructure but also offer Ethernet services and wavelengths between datacentres. This should be attractive to partners that are looking to grow their business with us.
Overall, investment in Marston’s Telecoms this year is around £1m, which for a business with revenues of £3.5m demonstrates the confidence our parent business has in us and our strategy.
CB: What is your current take on the wholesale broadband market?
RD: Customer requirements for bandwidth are increasing all the time and while broadband is a good product at a great price, the falling price of Ethernet offers a genuine alternative to customers. The entry level Ethernet variants such as GEA or EoFTTC which come with an SLA and dedicated bandwidth are a compelling choice.
In addition, the introduction of inclusive bandwidth FTTC products mean that wholesale providers such as us can provide FTTC to customers without the commercial concern of paying for expensive backhaul bandwidth.
Couple these connectivity options with products such as Hosted Voice, and there’s a very attractive product suite available to resellers with good margins.
CB: What is in store for Marston’s in the second half of 2016?
RD: We’re looking to grow the business in H2 through acquisition of new partners and strengthening our relationships with existing partners. I want to ensure that all the partners we bring on can have a meaningful business relationship with us, so we can understand each other, and mutually grow our businesses together.
As a relatively new entrant into the reseller space, we’re positioned well to adopt what works and leave behind what doesn’t. Our partner programme is totally collaborative and is designed around the needs of our partners, rather than being prescriptive like so many other models. We offer good prices to our partners, backed up by efficient support and a solid network infrastructure.
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