When he was in his late twenties, Sir Peter Rigby used £2,000 in savings to start his own IT business in a small office in central Birmingham.
Today SCC has expanded miles beyond the streets of the Midlands, serving more than 2,000 customers and employing thousands of staff. For 2015 its UK sales were £662m, making it the second-biggest British reseller and integrator. And its parent company, Rigby Group, has interests in airports, hotels, real estate, finance and aviation as well as IT. What's more, SCC is one of the few British resellers to have established a meaningful stronghold in France, and it has a presence in 55 locations there today.
But Rigby does not want to stop there and, in an interview with CRN, he opened up on his plans to double SCC's revenues, reiterated his commitment to staying privately owned, and voiced his concerns about the impact a possible Brexit could have on his business.
■ Rigby on Brexit
I think being in the EU is an entirely positive thing. In our case with SCC and the bigger group of companies I own, we have built an international business and primarily that is a European business. We are profitable, we are effective and we have scale in Europe. For example, our French business is the largest of its type and sector in France [and has] 3,000 people in 23 cities and [it's] a €1bn (£718.6m)European business.
That business is able to compete on level terms, for example, with French businesses and other international businesses. If we were not in Europe that certainly would not be the case; we would be in a much more difficult position in terms of being favoured as a supplier to French business opportunities. We are very much international in nature and I believe that is entirely appropriate to British business as a whole. We have to look to much broader horizons today than ever before and not just to Europe but outside Europe.
It is not sufficient to be good at what you do or win on merit. People can adopt a partisan approach and if we were not part of Europe, that would be yet more extreme in my opinion.
■ On staying private
We [have] always remained in family ownership. We are not dictated to by a VC who wants a quick exit or a public company that would inevitably be driven by quarterly results and share price. We have invested in the long term and that long term has meant building a business over a 20-year period which we would be reluctant to give up.
There is a real continuity of management and personnel in an industry that swaps and changes a lot. We have long-term relationships with customers and we take a long-term view. We have as a group made 15 or 16 acquisitions in the past two years, invested many tens of millions in our datacentre activities and in the creation of our secure cloud platform and in the physical datacentre - [we] probably put £50m into that. Public companies would have difficulty making those long-term investments because they want things to go to the bottom line and they want to distribute profits.
■ On the fusion of IT and telecoms
We don't really see ourselves as a channel player these days. Our business is so much broader than that. Distributing products is just one facet of what we do. We are an entirely services-orientated business with our datacentre activities and cloud services and all the current technologies. We recently acquired three telecoms-related businesses and we see this fusion of telecoms and IT as being very much the way forward; a rounded supplier-type situation to our customers. So it isn't just a channel play, it's very different to companies [such as Softcat and Kelway].
■ On SCC's growth plans
I don't think it is just a question of size, it's a question of quality and reward. We are comfortable in the strategy we have and our strategy for the next five years will be to more than double the size of the business and we are on that path.
That's a doubling of revenues but it's probably more than a doubling of profit.
There are elements of our industry that are tough to make a sensible profit in, and there are areas where it's easier. All our acquisitions are in incremental business opportunities, it's not more of the same. The organic growth we can generate in SCC is there, and that is our future.
■ On planes, trains and IT services
SCC under Rigby Group plc is one of six major business sectors in which we are involved. We are in aviation, luxury hotels, property development, investment, and Rigby Capital is a leasing business so we have a very broad spread of businesses. [It's] a very substantial base, albeit SCC is and will remain the absolute cornerstone of the group.
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