Softcat CEO talks Brexit, acquisitions, potential price hikes and unclouding

Doug Woodburn
clock • 8 min read

Martin Hellawell says reseller will aim to add £70m to top line every year as he talks to CRN about Softcat's first year as a public company and growth plans

Fresh from the release of Softcat's first full-year results as a public company, CRN caught up with its CEO, Martin Hellawell, to discuss growth plans, cloud overhype, potential acquisitions and whether he is bracing for a second round of vendor price hikes.

Firstly Martin, how would assess your first financial year as a public company?

The IPO itself was a huge event for us and we were very pleased with the way it went and the outcome of it. Most importantly, we are really pleased it hasn't changed the nature of the business, and who we are.

On top of that, we had all the Brexit and EU referendum stuff, and a change of prime minster. Despite all that, we still managed a record year in what has been a difficult market. You've seen all the results of our peers recently, which haven't been particularly great. It was a huge year for us and we've come out of it feeling pleased.

Your revenues rose 13 per cent to £672m. How does that break down?

The way we look at it is the SMB market, which is commercial customers with fewer than 2,000 users; enterprise, which is 2,000-plus; and then all the public sector. Public sector was the outperformer, so that has grown from 26 to 29 per cent of sales, SMB has grown to 55 per cent and enterprise is the remaining 16.

Is that level of growth sustainable?

As the numbers get bigger, it's harder to do the same percentage growth rate, so we do expect the percentage growth rate to ease down over time. But we think we can keep up about the same absolute growth in revenue and margin. We grew by about £70m last year, so we should be able to keep growing the business by that kind of order of magnitude. And we do that by sticking to our knitting, staying focused, not going off on wild tangents, listening to customers and what they're telling us and by continuing to grow the salesforce. That's our very simple recipe that we've followed for 10 years and it has worked for us, so there is no reason to change.

Click through to the next page to read Hellawell's views on Brexit, and whether he thinks more vendor price rises are on the way

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