Middle Eastern distributor Starlink is using the UK as its springboard into Europe as it looks to grow its footprint over the next three years.
Avinash Advani, senior vice president of strategic alliances and international markets at Dubai-based Starlink, said that the expansion is part of its plan to IPO jointly on NASDAQ and the Dubai Financial Exchange (DFX) by 2019.
"In order to execute such a milestone it would be essential to look at growing the North American market and the European market," he said. "We initiated our westward expansion strategy in Turkey, then sub-Saharan Africa, and that has just been rolling out year on year."
Starlink was founded in Dubai in 2005, and started its expansion plans in 2012. It specialises in security distribution and now operates in 14 countries, with 11 offices. The distie expanded into the USA at the end of 2015.
"The plan for 2016 was always to launch the European expansion," Advani explained. "The UK is our European hub. We are putting our local UK team in place and launching the UK market. Then over the next three years, we will be rolling out across the rest of Europe in sequence, approximately every six months. The tentative plan is Benelux and DACH next year, followed by the Nordics and CEE the year after, then Western and Southern Europe the year after that."
Advani said the distributor is hoping to have up to seven vendor partners in the UK by the end of 2016. It has already signed with Attivo Networks, Recorded Future, Core Security and IBM, and is in discussions with a number of other vendors.
He added that it is currently conducting conversations with 135 security resellers in the UK, and it will reach out to all of them.
"The number of channel partners we have is determined not only by us but by the vendor's channel strategy," he said. "It truly depends on what the vendor wants. We will reach out to all 135 resellers we have access to. In 2017 we expect the number of vendors to grow to between 10 and 12, so we anticipate around 30 to 50 reseller partners [will be active with Starlink] in 2017."
Advani added that Europe and in particular the UK is a "hotbed" for cyber threats, so he believes it is the perfect place for the security distie to launch next.
"When you look at the dynamics of the security network here in Europe, it is an extreme hotbed for cyber threats, hackers and nation states. But Europe is also dealing with Brexit and data havens and internal politics. That all creates this prime environment for cyber security to be a hot topic in Europe. From a business perspective it made a lot of sense to participate in this space," he said.
Carl West (pictured right), supply chain director at GfK, agreed that security is becoming "more and more important" in the UK, adding that bringing a new distributor into the UK would be a "positive thing for the UK security market".
"Security is becoming a more and more important subject with things like cloud, internet security, IoT, wearables and machine-to-machine communication. We are seeing a great deal of discussion and demand around end-point security. So I think having another player in the market, educating and informing clients and giving them the opportunity to sell more products, is a good thing," he said.
"New distributors in the UK would be a positive thing for the UK security market. GfK are tracking an increase in security products in the UK. We are seeing it across software and hardware security products. We have seen quite a lot of consolidation over the last few years within distribution so I think adding [Starlink] to the UK will help with competition. There is also plenty of space in the security market at the moment for expansion."
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