While there may have been a touch of the green-eyed monster from some distributors, as an indicator for their industry, seeing Westcoast storm into the Top Track 100 charts as the eighth fastest-growing private company in the UK must have been some validation that their sector is not doing all bad.
Distribution has come in for a fair amount of stick over the past few years. Since the boom era of the late 1990’s the question of whether or not distribution is really necessary has been whispered in pubs all the way along the M4 corridor.
The shakeout in the early noughties saw the demise of some major players – Datrontec, CHS Electronics and VLSI to name but a few – as the grim reaper played havoc with the sector. Consolidation came next with the acquisitions of Ideal Hardware, InTechnology, Clarity and EquIP,
for example, all in the past several years.
But with players such as Westcoast, at least it seems there may be ray of sunshine out there.
Yet is hasn’t always been that way for the Reading-based distributor. The company, founded in 1984, has had its own share of turbulence: the threat of being bought-out back in 2001 when Paul Cook was managing director; the failed acquisition of Actebis back in 2003; and the hullabaloo with contracts when Hewlett-Packard bought Compaq.
However, through the work and foresight of its management, the firm has reached heady heights and as one contact put it to me: is “punching well above its weight”, especially when you compare it to the likes of UK giants Computer 2000 and Ingram Micro, which both operate as European companies.
And this surely has to be the next area of expansion for Westcoast, which hinted at acquisitions this week. After failing to get its paws on Actebis, which operates mainly in Europe, the distributor must have its binoculars at the ready
for a likely continental target to pounce on.
Sara Driscoll is editor of CRN. Email her at [email protected]
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