"Going by valuations, distribution has rarely looked healthier"
UK distribution revenues: £2.723bn (+32%)
Key vendors: HPI, HPE, Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Juniper, Microsoft, Lexmark, Dynabook
UK headcount: 900
HQ: Theale, Berkshire
Recent acquisitions: Artsystems (2016), Data Select (2019), Colourgen (2019)
Largest warehouse: Andover, Hants - 368k sq ft
Westcoast is now the UK's largest IT distributor with revenues topping £2.7bn in its year to 31 December 2020 (according to numbers it shared with us).
Our headline figure excludes Westcoast's distribution operations in Ireland and mainland Europe - as well as reseller sister company XMA - but includes recent UK acquisitions that sit outside its main Westcoast Ltd distribution arm, most notably £160m-revenue smartphone distie Data Select.
Founded by Sunday Times Rich List regular Joe Hemani in 1984, Westcoast Group turned over £3.525bn in 2020, up from £2.799bn in 2019. Representing brands including HP, Apple and Samsung, it now claims to be the UK's largest privately owned IT business, and verging on being in the top ten of all UK privately owned companies.
Quickfire Q&A with Westcoast MD Alex Tatham
What specialism is your firm known for, and what sets you apart from your peers?
We specialise in being excellent and we are unrelenting in our agility and desire for partnership which sets us apart.
Have you made any significant vendor signings in the last 12 months?
Avast, Tactus, Xiaomi, Mist, Konica Minolta
What's the biggest misconception about distribution?
That its business model is irrelevant. Distribution has proved that it is adaptable, nimble and as essential as ever
How would you summarise the health of the distribution sector in 2021?
Looking at the valuations of those sold in the last year and the immense role it has played in the pandemic - it has rarely looked healthier
What's been your biggest disappointment of the last year?
That our customers bought anything from someone else!
Do you expect to grow in 2021?
Yes, +20% organic
At first glance, the rise of cloud must be pretty devastating for distributors if there is no physical product to ship. How have you adapted?
What like licensing or service contracts which distribution have long been excellent at? The largest cloud partners in Europe are all existing distributors. It's the one area we don't have availability issues!!!
How do you see the role of distribution changing in the 2020s?
Resellers need distributors for the heavy lifting as they morph into MSPs as well as outstanding processes which can applied to physical and virtual products.
Tell us one thing most people won't know about your company?
We now configure 5,000 devices every day through our config centres on behalf of customers.
Read our indepth interview with Tatham here.
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