Bell Micro has emerged ‘stronger than ever’ after almost two years of fighting to get relisted and restating its financials.
Chief executive Don Bell, said: “What a difference a year makes. If we go back a year ago the industry was doom and gloom. We had completed our restatement process, but not caught up with the years after that. The review went back 11 years. We have that behind us and that all completed now. In the September time period last year we finally became current.”
The distributor is due to reveal its fourth quarter results later this month and Bell said he is expecting sales to be between eight and 10 per cent up on the previous quarter and on the same period last year. European turnover is expected to be up 17 per cent on Q3 2009, and up 13 per cent from the year ago quarter. Earnings are expected to be in the range expected or above he added.
“We are poised for continued growth in 2010 and our target will be in the 15 per cent [growth] range as a minimum,” Bell said. “We feel that we have a little wind behind our back now. We are on a higher plateau going into the year than we were last year. We have come through the worst in the economy and don’t expect a double dip.”
Bell added that storage is performing particularly strongly for the distributor, but all product areas are doing well.
“We are feeling a lot better about the business and we have proved [critics] wrong. I don’t know of a single customer that left us during that time period. The competition did everything they could to make that happen. But we have our mojo back in the company. We have new customers that are coming on board and our suppliers are raising credit limits. We have really appreciated the support from our banks, customers and suppliers during the last 18-months, as well as the hard work of our staff,” he said.
Graeme Watt, president of worldwide distribution at Bell, said the firm was stronger because of its experiences.
“Looking back, we can say that 18-months to two-years ago we were at our toughest point and the market was going against everybody. Credit was constrained and professional fees were at their peak.
“The vendor support was great and our staff have had to deal with all sorts of people muddying the waters. We have absolutely hit all the commitments that we made to all people and will continue to do that,” he said.
Watt added that Bell had the double whammy of the economic slowdown, on top of all its internal challenges to deal with at the same time, but that the experience had strengthened its resolve.
“We have had to make tough decisions and go deeper than we would have gone otherwise, but we are a lot stronger as a result. As the market rebounds, I think we will rebound quicker than anybody else,” Watt said.
Bell added: “People in the company were really the key to our success and in fact we have had the lowest turnover of employees in the past year that we have ever had – around five per cent – that indicates that not only do we have a good team, but we have a good working environment.”
John Toal, president of Bell Micro Europe, said the UK business had a solid year last year, and 2010 is looking similarly solid.
“We have a major focus on the OEM business this year and also the digital signage and CCTV markets have a strong focus. We will continue to recruit vendors as well as working with our existing vendors,” he said. “We are looking at all areas of the business and where we have gaps, we are adding complementary products.”
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