Our trading name is The Knowledge Group, but we are actually made up of four companies: Lancare (UK) Ltd, our reseller division; Knowledge Technology, which was originally our distribution division; VCS (Very Clever Software), our research and development division; and RMS Ltd, which is a recent acquisition.
Patchway, Bristol (head office)
Thornbury, Bristol; Birmingham; Glasgow; and two London offices.
About 200 and growing
Nigel Beresford, managing director; Klem Cowan, marketing director; Miles Carter, finance director; Margaret McCarthy, financial controller; Steve Carpenter, technical director; and Jim Brookes, non-executive director.
Company year end
Last year's turnover
Projected financial results for the year ending May 1999
#1.2 million profit on total sales of #21 million
Main product lines sold
Primarily high performance networking products and network security systems.
The main vendors we resell are: 3Com, Cisco, Netscape, Hewlett Packard, Lucent, Security Dynamics, Intel, Siemens, Radguard (an Israeli security systems manufacturer) and Redcreek (virtual private network systems).
Main accreditations held
Lucent Systems Integrator; 3Com Advanced Systems Partner; Computer Associates Platinum Partner; Cisco Silver Partner and Approved Enterprise Var; Microsoft Certified Solution Provider; Radguard Certified Var; HP OpenView Certified Partner; Novel Consulting Partner; Intel Network Solutions Centre; and Novel Consulting Partner.
The education sector accounts for approximately one third of our total sales. Other public sector markets, such as local government, the health service, airports and utilities, account for another third, with commercial customers, particularly City institutions, taking the final third.
BAA, Oxford University, British Gas, Barnet Healthcare Trust, Barclays Bank, Capital Radio and the Ministry of Defence.
The Knowledge Group does not have permanent offices outside the UK, but because we also manufacture our own products, we do conduct business overseas - in Europe, the US and Australia.
What products does The Knowledge Group manufacture?
Two key products are Wide Awake, a remote network monitoring and management device and the VCS Firewall, a network security package. We have just launched The Knowledge Club, an online sales and referral site.
Because The Knowledge Group is a hybrid operation which focuses so much on services, we do not see ourselves as directly competing with any other UK players.
But surely you must have been beaten to an account in the past?
We only lose out if we make the mistake of bidding for an account in an area that is not part of our core business.
What proportion of your revenue is derived from a) purely from sales and b) from value-added services?
I'd estimate that services account for the greater percentage of our total revenues. But only just - it's about a 60:40 split.
Which distributors do you use and what do you see as their main role?
Most of our key products are bought from the vendors, but we do use Azlan, Ilion, Ingram Micro and Unity to purchase components where swift availability and competitive pricing are important.
What's the biggest challenge you foresee for the year ahead?
To continue growing in what is indisputably a very volatile market. The internet and the opportunities it provides are constantly changing and we need to keep one step ahead of the technology. We'd also like to make The Knowledge Group more of a brand name, to raise the profile of the company.
Is there a recession on the way?
Not in this industry. We have seen no indication of a slowdown in demand for our products and services. From the figures already mentioned we expect revenue to increase by a third this year.
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