Five years after VAR Niu Solutions scaled back its buy-and-build ambitions, its new boss has opened up about his growth strategy.
Shaun Ledgerwood, chief executive of London and Surrey-based Niu Solutions, has been at the helm since 2014, replacing previous incumbent Gary Woodward, who at the time revealed that the firm’s buy-and-build ambition had been hit hard by the economic downturn.
However, the firm has regrouped and is reaping the rewards of a more focused strategy. It currently employs just over 120 people and turnover for the past financial year stood at £20m.
“We have been around for 15 years and around five years ago a couple of business combined to form the current company,” Ledgerwood (pictured) explained. “We have a deeper focus on the finance and retail sectors and one of our biggest claims to fame is that we helped set up the Metro Bank. When we started working with them they had five people, and now they have 1,500 people and more than 30 branches around London.
“We at Niu feel very happy that we are well placed in the fintech market. We have deep knowledge of the regulatory space, and the IT space from a financial perspective is very highly regulated. A lot of customers coming to us have skeleton staff levels and want to move very rapidly and with high flexibility. We are an agile company and we can bring that to them. In the last two years we have seen our order intake grow by 60 per cent across both the finance and retail sectors.
“In the past the larger institutions have gone for the big players, but we now find that they are coming to us because we are so agile,” he said.
He added that the firm is backed by a family-owned trust that holds the majority of shares, and that the trust has recently injected an [undisclosed] amount into the business, which it is using to hire extra salespeople and skill up its existing team.
Ledgerwood said Niu had seen particular success with its IBM business which was further boosted when Big Blue bought Softlayer, and since it ditched its IPT business in 2011, the firm has seen 44 per cent growth in its Microsoft business, and is also gaining traction with AWS.
In addition, Niu is increasing its engagement with ISVs because they offer a more tailored solution for customers, he explained.
“It has been very important for us to develop closer relationships with ISVs,” he said. “They understand their software in much greater detail and what infrastructure it requires. We hire project managers that work very closely with the customer and the ISV, and the customer benefits that way from a more collaborative approach, plus it avoids battles between infrastructure and software vendors.”
In terms of growth, the firm has seen an increase in business north of London and a general move by customers to a managed IT strategy.
“We can serve a customer regardless of where they are based [geographically], and for now we are concentrating on organic growth. We did go through a thought process, and we would never rule out anything [such as an acquisition], but it would have to be really interesting and have real synergies,” he said.
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