Top Vars 100 - 56

Top VARs is a report into the fortunes of the 100 biggest UK resellers and the priorities of CIOs across a variety of vertical markets. The research reveals that there are plenty of resellers on the list that continue to grow sales, but it also shows how much margins are coming under pressure.

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Dacoll swoops back into the top 100 following a two-year absence. The company, which is headquartered in Bathgate, saw FY13 net profit grow more than threefold to £981,000 on revenue that expanded by 24.1 per cent.
Freedom Communications
This Watford-based comms VAR is investing in the next generation of the workforce, announcing earlier this year that it was receiving government backing for a £2m scheme to work with local colleges on an apprenticeship programme. The Alcatel-Lucent and Microsoft partner saw its FY14 net bottom line cut in half to £153,432, as sales climbed 3.2 per cent.
OISG Group
The London-based reseller swallowed some exceptional costs during FY13 as it rebranded and undertook a corporate restructure, leading to a net loss of almost £700,000 on sales that grew almost 10 per cent. But the directors’ report claims “a number of significant cost savings should result in much improved profitability in FY14”.
The Cirencester-based IBM, HP, Cisco, and Microsoft partner saw sales reduce by more than £5m in FY13, with the directors’ report claiming the prior year contained “significant one-off projects”. But the firm says it bolstered its underlying profitability, with gross margins spiking from 27.1 to 33.2 per cent. It recently announced a £7m investment from the Business Growth Fund.
Capital Document Solutions
This Scottish print services specialist remains in the top 100 after making its debut last year on the back of its acquisition of Inverness-based Highland Office Equipment. This year’s ranking is based on a prorated sales figure, as revenue for the 15 months to the end of March 2014 came in at £25.6m, including £4.25m from acquisitions.
Blue Chip
The smaller of the two companies on this list to share the same moniker is based in Poole and works with Cisco, Citrix, VMware, EMC and Microsoft. Its pre-tax profit for the 2013 financial year rose by more than £1m to £1.9m, as its top line grew 9.6 per cent.
Celebrating its 30th birthday next year, this City-based VAR counts Cisco, NetApp, Microsoft, HP and VMware as its major partners. Turnover for the calendar year clambered up 2.1 per cent, while pre-tax profit increased by more than a fifth to £190,292.
Based in north London, this reseller vends more than 50,000 products to consumers and businesses through its online IT and electricals store. Its 2013 net profit nigh on doubled to £517,722 as sales grew 15.6 per cent. The firm’s annual report claims it benefitted from the launch of a new Windows operating system, and the failure of some high street-based rivals.
Richardson Eyres
This VAR is another re-entrant, after falling short of the leading 100 last year. In 2013 sales grew by more than a third and the firm turned a pre-tax profit of £751,627, compared with a loss of more than £1m in the preceding year.
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This Oracle, Microsoft and IBM partner saw FY14 revenue fall by 16.3 per cent to £22.8m, which it chalked up, in part, to a shift from infrastructure towards software and services. Its Integrated Solutions division saw reduced profitability, contributing to a company-wide decrease in pre-tax profit from £3m to a still healthy-looking £2m.
Zensar Technologies
The 2014 fiscal year was a profitable one for the UK arm of this Indian software and services heavyweight, with pre-tax income soaring by more than £1m to £2.7m. Revenue increased 7.4 per cent, while shareholders’ funds increased from £4.2m to £5.3m over the course of the year.
The Northampton-based IT, cloud, services and office products business added £1m to its top line in FY14 and claims it also grew profits and won its largest-ever managed services deal: a five-year engagement in the City. During the year acs also invested in a new business team, the expansion of its London office, and boosting its mobile, cloud and services credentials. The long-term goal is passing £50m by 2020.
The past year has seen the infrastructure optimisation specialist undertake a big business transformation drive, including an upcoming rebrand, a revamp of its sales methodology, and a CRM rollout. The firm has embarked on a journey to becoming a consultancy and services-led organisation.
Calyx Managed Services
This MSP announced it was feeling optimistic about its 2014 fiscal year after a tough but transitional FY13, which saw sales plummet 18 per cent and chairwoman Fiona Timothy retire. During the year the firm also performed a debt-forequity move to excise loan notes it claimed were hampering its balance sheet and “ability to trade”.
Excell Group
This comms VAR saw FY13 revenue grow three per cent, although operating profit was almost dead flat at £1.06m. The lack of movement on the bottom line was attributed to “an increase in the headcount and calibre of staff, coupled with a development programme for existing staff”. Excell has offices in Cambridge, London, Derbyshire, and West Sussex, and partners with vendors including Avaya, Microsoft, O2, and Mitel.
The UK arm of this German powerhouse enjoyed a solid 2013, with revenue up 2.4 per cent. However, pre-tax profit was almost £200,000 down on the prior year, coming in at £952,840. At a group level, Bechtle increased sales 8.4 per cent last year to €2.27bn, while EBIT rose 13.4 per cent to €91.05m.
PCS Business Systems
This Kettering-based reseller’s top line exploded in FY14, increasing by more than £5m. Profits went the other way, but the firm still banked pre-tax income of £778,101, down from just under £900,000 in the previous year. The firm partners with manufacturers including HP, Dell, Citrix, Brother and Epson.
This VAR recently reopened an office in the Microsoft volumelicensing hotspot of York, where former SBL sales chief Claire Gannon will head up a public sector-focused team. The VAR has bagged a spot on the software lot of the government’s new £6bn Technology Products framework.
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This Surbiton-based VAR and cloud player grew its top and bottom line in FY14. The firm, which also has branches in Cape Town, Singapore, San Francisco and Gibraltar, works with a wide array of hardware and software vendors, including Dell, Oracle, Cisco, Citrix and EMC.
Block Solutions
This Cisco Gold partner is investing £2m in boosting its hosting and services credentials, beginning with the launch of a datacentreas- a-service offering earlier this year. The firm will initially target customers in its long-standing core market of healthcare, and claims it has the capacity to serve up to 10,000 users. During FY14 Block expanded its revenue by upwards of 20 per cent, while EBITDA more than doubled.
Revenue at the comms integrator dropped a little in FY14 but profits grew from £1.5m to almost £2m. During the year the firm opened the doors on a state-of-the-art demo facility at its Horsham HQ. Recent developments include moving from its previous London base in Hammersmith to a bigger facility in the City.
This Avaya partner swallowed a net loss of £102,000 in its 2013 fiscal year, despite a top line that rose by 12.7 per cent. The Southwarkbased firm made an ill-fated move to set up shop in Germany, which ended after little more than a year in October 2012. But despite this, sales into mainland Europe have continued to grow, spiking by 42.7 per cent to £4.2m in FY13.
Q Associates
The 2014 fiscal year was a tough one for this IBM, Oracle, Cisco, and Microsoft partner, with turnover reducing by 18 per cent. The company also traded at a loss for the year of about £700,000, compared with £116,396 in the preceding year. However, Q offloaded its investment in games company NaturalMotion, the proceeds from which guided the firm to a pre-tax profit of £923,000.
The Cheshire-based print VAR grew its top line by 35 per cent and banked a pre-tax profit of £2.3m in a stellar FY14. The firm also has a branch in South Africa, taking group sales comfortably past £30m. The reseller hopes its attainment of Google Certified Shop status will give its top line a further boost.
This security specialist has been on something of a shopping spree in recent years, and just over a third of the additional £6.6m it put on its top line in FY14 came from its buyout of SensePost. EBITDA for the year came in £1m higher at £3.3m. In addition to its Maidstone HQ and Weybridge office, the firm recently moved its sales and consultancy operations to Shoreditch, with overall headcount set to rise from 130 to 150. More M&A may also be on the cards, but CEO Etienne Greeff claims deals will be geared towards adding capability, not increasing sales.
Grey Matter
The Devon-based licensing specialist, which has been in operation for 31 years, saw its top line expand 13 per cent in FY13. But operational profitability took a hit, as operating income increased just four per cent to £804,542. The firm has accreditations with a smorgasbord of the software world’s top names, including SAP, Oracle, Adobe, and Microsoft.
Total Computer Networks
The Kettering-based reseller climbs more than 20 places up the rankings after enjoying another strong growth year in 2013, with more than £10m added to the top line. Pre-tax profit also nigh on doubled to more than £1m. This year the firm opened an office in the City, and 2014 sales are forecast to enjoy another eight-figure boost and come in at more than £40m.
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Last year was one of modest growth for this Apple VAR, which also returned to profitability after exceptional costs reduced. Turnover was up 2.3 per cent, with a net profit of £316,937, compared with a loss of more than £500,000 in the preceding year. In 2012 the firm had to swallow the bulk of one-off charges related to its acquisition of the UK business of rival Cancom.
This Cisco and Microsoft house grew revenue by almost a fifth in FY13, an increase it chalks up to “renewed investment decisions within its customer base”. Headcount rose from 60 to 72, which contributed to a 24 per cent rise in overheads. Operating profit went backwards by 3.4 per cent, coming in at just under £800,000.
Blue Chip
Headquartered in Bedford, the bigger of the brace of VARs on this list with the same name also has offices in London, Scotland, and Portugal. During FY14 it disposed of its operations in Sri Lanka, with the local management team taking ownership. Its annual results for the year – in which pre-tax profit declined by about £400,000 to £2.7m – include almost £2m from discontinued operations.
A new office in Scotland was among the investments made by this VAR during a successful 2013 fiscal year, in which revenue increased by about 23 per cent. The company also banked and an extra half a million pounds in pre-tax profit, with a bottom line of more than £1.2m. The integration of security reseller GSS – which MTI acquired in 2011 – was also completed during the year.
Millgate Computers
In its 2014 fiscal year this Sheffield VAR showed a 20 per cent increase in turnover and pre-tax income, which came in at more than £1m. Recent developments include the expansion of its Taylor Steele recruitment business, and the addition of nine budding sales staff for its first sales academy.
Xerox IT Services
The company formerly known as ACS saw its pre-tax profit skyrocket from £867,856 to £3.75m during 2013, despite sales falling 14.8 per cent. The bottom-line increase translated to a growth in operating margins from 3.39 to 12.24 per cent, as the annual cost of sales reduced by £7m.
Esteem Systems
The Wetherby-based VAR was back in the black during FY13, with the &328,000 pre-tax loss of the prior year being turned into a £551,000 profit. This was despite turnover declining by 4.3 per cent. The company claims it is primed for growth after recently completing a refinancing exercise with backer Lloyds Bank.
Intrinsic Technology
The Merseyside-based Cisco Gold partner claims it enjoyed a 19 per cent spike in managed services revenue in FY13, despite its overall top line declining by 6.5 per cent. The firm also endured a pre-tax loss of more than £3m, up from £2.15m in the prior year. Mark Bates, who became Intrinsic’s fourth boss in less than three years in June, will surely be hoping to oversee a better performance in FY14 and beyond.
The licensing specialist saw its UK turnover decline by 2.4 per cent during the 2013 calendar year, but enjoyed an operating profit spike of almost 20 per cent, with the bottom line swelling to £444,752. The directors’ report for the year reveals the firm took a stronger line on credit management during the year, with average debtor days falling from 88 to 46.
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Selection Services
This managed services player has grown through acquisition in recent years, with firms including 8el and Cloud Data being brought into the group. With offices in Bromley and Reading, the firm’s key partners include VMware, Veeam, HP, Cisco, and Dell. Our calculation of group turnover is up by almost £3m on last year’s placing, but the directors’ report for the year says the firm reduced overheads by eight per cent.
Tectrade Computers
This IBM partner grew turnover by almost a third in its 2014 fiscal year, while pre-tax profit exploded more than threefold to £2.1m. The firm claims the UK spending climate for IT remains buoyant, while market conditions for its Dutch business are also reportedly improving. In recent years Tectrade has invested in setting up shop in the US, and it expects the business to generate upwards of $5m in revenue in FY15.
DTP Group
The Leeds-based VAR’s turnover was relatively flat last year, as it saw muted spending in its higher education market stronghold. But the company claims its big data analytics business performed strongly, as did its managed services operation, where it is starting to branch out into client computing.
The PC, components, and system building specialist sells online to consumers and businesses, and also has a showroom at its Portsmouth HQ. Revenue in its 2013 fiscal year reduced by 1.2 per cent, although pre-tax profit increased by about two thirds to £852,687.
The Geordie VAR saw its turnover decline 5.4 per cent in FY13, and the directors’ report for the year claimed “investment by SMEs in IT remained weak”. Pre-tax losses for the year widened by more than £1m to £3.5m, while sales and administration staff numbers declined by 20 to 176.
This Birmingham-based VAR took its sales back past the £40m mark after an up-and-down few years. Its top line rose 7.7 per cent in 2013, while pre-tax profit was pretty flat at £546,940. The firm recently landed on the infrastructure hardware lot of the government’s new £6bn commodity IT framework.
This cloud specialist had just been rescued from administration by its new owner, outsourcing outfit Liberata, when we compiled this report a year ago. Some 12 months on the company has been integrated into its parent’s IT operation which, according to its most recent annual report, has a top line tracking above the £40m mark.
This long-standing educationfocused Apple specialist has reaped early rewards from its drive to diversify its business from both a technology and vertical standpoint. Sales were up almost 30 per cent in FY14, and the firm is targeting further success in the B2B arena, with the aim of taking its top line towards the £60m mark in FY15.
Annual results for the 2014 fiscal year showed this London-listed firm had grown in size from £1.6m to £14m. That figure will surely grow massively again in FY15, as it benefits from a fullyear contribution from Redstone, the £30m integrator it bought in November. In February Coms followed up with a deal for large parts of £10m telephony reseller Actimax. A top line of £45m seems an appropriately conservative estimate for the firm’s current size.
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