Launching a new distribution player is never an easy task, but Varlink has managed to thrive since it emerged on the scene 11 years ago and has weathered the ups and downs to stick to a steady growth path.
With turnover estimated to hit £11m for its current financial year, it is next year that the hard work of the past 12 months will pay off, explained founder Mike Pullon (pictured, right).
The specialist distributor, which focuses on ePoS and mobile computing, held its annual Meet the Manufacturer event in Solihull last month, and Pullon said the visitor numbers were encouraging.
“We saw a swathe of new companies and faces, which proves that the technology we carry is reaching into new parts of the channel," he said.
He added that the York-based distributor has seen a few changes over the past 12 months, particularly with manufacturer Zebra, after it began distributing its entire product range last month, which has opened up a “huge market opportunity”.
“We have recruited three more salespeople to capitalise on this opportunity, and we are now halfway through the financial year. It has been all about onboarding products and bringing on new customers,” he said.
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing, he admitted. “When Casio pulled out of selling through distribution, we had a bit of a hiccup,” Pullon said. “But we have since signed DataVan, which has brought a whole new range of ePoS products which we are investing heavily in, plus we are accelerating our business with HP’s ePoS range. We also have our rugged computing range, and our recent partnership with Panasonic will start to bear fruit.”
He explained that the distributor has also launched a new website to reflect its new image. Pullon said: “In the past I think we were seen as a bit of an online fulfilment house, but we have re-engineered the business off the back of the new website and now we can show our capability in new areas, and also offer insights into news and trends in our key markets. Our old website has just become a straightforward ordering portal.”
He added that the distributor was on track to hit £11m turnover this year despite the setbacks, but when the new financial year starts in September, and the benefits from the new partnerships with DataVan and Zebra kick in, he predicted that the uptick will be noticeable, with 20 per cent top-line growth an achievable goal.
However, he said the uncertainty over Brexit and currency fluctuations with the dollar and euro are taking their toll on the industry at the moment.
“In distribution, margins are tight and it is difficult to keep resellers happy. I don’t think there is going to be any real stability before the Brexit vote is out the way. But we are a business that is funded by directors, rather than answering to shareholders, and we have made the right decisions by not trying to do crazy things around pricing,” he said.
“Another nice thing is that most of the people here have been at Varlink for a long time and they are all contributing to the success of the business. They are a great bunch to have around. I’m feeling really confident for the future.”
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