Ian Kilpatrick has stressed he and his management team are fully committed to Wick Hill despite the security VAD taking on a "significant" investment designed to help it expand across EMEA.
Wick Hill is the inaugural investment of Rigby Private Equity, the new private equity arm of SCC owner Rigby Group which has £50m in funds to burn in the IT market
The undisclosed investment, which leaves Rigby Private Equity as majority shareholder, will enable Wick Hill to expand from the UK and Germany into other major territories in Europe and the Middle East.
Talking to CRN, Wick Hill chairman Kilpatrick (pictured), who was previously sole owner, said that the Check Point, WatchGuard and Kaspersky distributor had been approached by numerous suitors in its 39-year history but that other options would have led to a loss of focus.
"Let's get the elephant clearly in the room: I'm here and excited by this, and I'm not going anywhere," he said.
Wick Hill turns over about $150m in the UK and DACH region but the fact it lacks pan-European clout had counted against it with some vendors and partners, Kilpatrick said.
"In the UK and DACH, we're a pretty tall poppy and that's taken us to a scale point where we need an EMEA footprint," he said. "We are competing with the EMEA distributors and have been asked by a lot of our vendors about what we can do for them in additional territories, as they like our model. Working with the Rigby Group is really quite exciting as it allows us to do that while maintaining our model, ethos and go-to-market."
Paul Eccleston, head of Rigby Private Equity, told CRN he is looking to invest in a "handful" of IT businesses that have "a strong value proposition and great growth opportunity, but not necessarily the resources to fully exploit that growth opportunity".
"We are looking to build a portfolio of investments and Wick Hill is the first of those," Eccleston said.
"The fund is currently in the order of £50m, but there's scope to increase that, with other investors joining the fund if and when we need to raise more funds."
There is no timetable for European expansion and no revenue goal, Eccleston said, with the immediate priority being to ensure Wick Hill's existing activities are strengthened.
"The absolute priority today is to make sure the value proposition and skills and services Wick Hill delivers to customers and vendor partners in the UK and DACH continues and is enhanced," he said. "Our priority then is to start looking at opportunities given to us by vendor partners and customers to do the same job in all of the major territories in EMEA."
The two parties were unable to comment on details of the transaction, other than to say that Rigby Private Equity is now majority owner.
Grahame Smee, managing director of Exertis VAD Solutions, said: "If you take on outside investmen, hopefully the people who take over the shareholding have the same goals as you and you can go forward into new markets together. I'm sure they'll be looking to replicate the model in different European countries, which may well be successful for them."
Chris Walsh, sales director at Alpha Generation Distribution, said: "Ian has built a really successful company and it is all built around him. If it was me acquiring Wick Hill, I'd have done my utmost to ensure Ian stays as the heart and sole of a business he has built from the ground up."
A summary of what you get if you subscribe to our premium market intelligence service
Matthew Polly says CrowdStrike is looking to branch out from the UK and into mainland Europe
Southampton-based VAR states that further acquisitions are in the pipeline
With UKFast launching a public cloud consultancy, Tom Wright asks if this is the way forward for all local hosting providers