Commsworld, already a force in delivering converged communication solutions to thousands of Scottish businesses and recently awarded Gold status by Avaya has now completed an ambitious exercise to raise £700,000 and in the process persuaded one of Scotland’s leading financiers to take up a key non-executive role as it pushes ahead with aggressive expansion plans.
The firm, with its headquarters in Edinburgh and offices in Glasgow and Aberdeen, now plans to increase the Scotland-wide staff from 45 to 60 within the next year.
Its portfolio of 2500 diverse clients, including SECC, Scottish Friendly Assurance, Grant Thornton, Subsea7, Dewar’s and Turcan Connell WS, means it dominates the SME sector, serving hundreds of household name businesses.
However the ambitious expansion will allow it to target the country’s bigger enterprise firms, including major call centres that typically look to English firms for their comms support.
Ricky Nicol, a co-founder of the business and now business development director, said: “Lots of Scotland’s bigger enterprises mistakenly believe they can only get the level of comms support they need from our English-based rivals.
“That is a myth we intend to dispel. The fact is that many of those companies have only a token presence in Scotland and they are not fully committed to the Scottish market. They are not in the position to service the needs of their Scottish customers on a 24/7 basis, whereas we are.
“However, we fully appreciate that to win and retain the medium-to-large enterprise (MLE) business, we need to expand the size of our own operations.
We have now delivered the funding to match our ambitions and that makes this the most exciting period in the company’s history.”
To finance the expansion, Commsworld has secured £700,000 funding from a small number of investors, including £100,000 from the firm’s own directors, with bank facilities being provided by The Royal Bank of Scotland.
One of the investors was Ian Blackford, former managing director of Deutsche Bank’s Netherlands-based equity business. Initially involved in an advisory capacity, he has now accepted a place on the board alongside Malcolm McPherson, a former Hibs chairman.
Mr Nicol added: “We’ve grown our business prudently and are now in a position where we can look forward with confidence. The fact that a financier of Ian’s stature has not only invested, but joined the board, reinforces the health of our company.”
Commsworld was founded just over a decade ago in 1994, originally as a reseller of telephone systems and has weathered one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the telecoms sector.
By embracing new technology and providing a one-stop communications solution the firm has thrived and its annual results next month will show turnover £4.6million in 2004. It has set a target of 40% growth by the end of next year and is on course after six months.
As well as providing full telephone billing for clients, Commsworld engineers also carry out structured cabling and electrical contracting work and the firm recently added design and installation of electrical and mechanical systems to its Technical Services division.
Commsworld has cemented its dominance in Scotland through hard-earned partnerships with all the sector’s biggest players, including Thus. Andy Arkle, Director of Network Services, said Thus was one of the most innovative names in the field..
Commsworld is a major user of Thus data products and Andy added: “Thus has a fantastic network in Scotland and across the UK as far as capabilities are concerned.
“If you think of what their bigger rivals are trying to achieve, Thus already have the infrastructure in place. Thus wants to be seen as the pre-eminent alternative network in the UK – and from our point of view they are certainly that.”