Stone's chief executive Simon Harbridge has said becoming a trusted specialist in public sector technology has helped it achieve success as the company celebrates its 25th birthday.
Stone was established in 1991 and supplies IT kit to schools, colleges and universities as well as the wider public sector. To mark its 25th birthday, the firm has kitted out a 13.5 metre lorry with a range of the latest technology products it offers, touring 25 locations across the UK.
Harbridge (pictured), who has been at Stone for 10 years, said the company has enjoyed success due to its specialist nature.
"I remind people here what are we here for, and what we do every day," he said. "On the one side, you've got the wonderful world of ever-changing technology, of which we are at the forefront with our partners such as Microsoft, and on the other side is our vertical markets.
"We are focused on particular markets so we really understand education, we really understand local government, and we really understand police. We take account of policy changes, funding, and so on. We really have a detailed understanding of the market. And we have a really detailed understanding of technology on the other side. What we're here for every day is to bring our customers the technology in the market which suits them.
"We are the interpreter and we bring very tailored solutions from the world of technology to those specific markets and I think our success is based on doing that really well – knowing the two sides and bringing them together in the best way for those customers."
For the 12 months to 31 December 2014, Stone's EBITDA before exceptional items rose 30.4 per cent to £4.47m on revenue which fell by 3.8 per cent to £74.4m.
The nature of Stone's public sector-focused business means the company is at the mercy of any changes which affect government.
Harbridge pointed to the beginning of austerity in 2010 as one of the most challenging times for Stone.
"In my time here, I think probably from 2010 onwards, with the dawn of a true austerity period has been very, very challenging for the whole public sector, including schools," he said.
"The public sector has had enormous challenges – education has been ring-fenced from a lot of those changes and the policy has been to continue to fund schools. Universities are quite well funded, thank you very much, because they get £9,000 a year from every student. Further education, which is sandwiched between the two, has become a very challenging environment where a lot of cuts have been made."
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