Focused on the future

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It’s been two years since Mobile News visited telecom dealer Focus Group, and much has changed. Michael Garwood heads south to discuss re-brands, relocation, expansion and ambitious B2B targets

Speaking to most personnel in the mobile industry, you’d be forgiven for thinking the momentum to unify communications is weighted heavily towards the traditional mobile space. With network-led fixed-based services such as O2 Joined Up, Vodafone One Net and Orange Pocket Landline now established, many dealers and distributors have been quoted in these pages suggesting fixed-line is, perhaps, a declining market due to its struggles to adopt mobile.

While this may be true for some, the management team at Southwick-based telecom all-rounder Focus Group vehemently disagreed.

Established in 2003, it begun trading in 2004 with just two employees sitting around a table and a phone, and Focus has gone from strength to strength predominately in the fixed-line space. It has a customer base exceeding 4,500 UK businesses, and wholesale deals with Gamma, Opal Telecom, Cable and Wireless and BT Wholesale.

The company has a turnover of more than £11 million, and featured in the Sunday Times Microsoft Tech Track 100 in recognition of its growth in consecutive years. It is ranked 84 in the EMEA 500 across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Focus has also recently acquired 47.5 per cent of local IT company Aztec, which it expects to help raise revenues to close to £14 million by the end of 2012. The deal saw the Aztec brand removed and merged into its own Focus IT business, enabling it to off er web hosting, design, and computer repairs among other services.

Relocation
Since Mobile News last headed south to meet the team two years ago, the company has relocated from a modest-sized building and cluttered office in Hove, to a new, spacious, 840m2 modern building just a short drive away.

Staff numbers have also increased by 30 per cent to nearly 50 in two years; a move it said was designed specifically to allow future growth.

Sales director, and co-founder Chris Goodman (pictured left) reels off impressive fixed-line statistics, comparing them with those from our last visit. They show a £130,000 per month rise in calls and a £130,000 rise in customer line rentals.

“Does this sound like an industry in decline?” Goodman asks with a wry but not arrogant smile, while shaking his head.

“We have more customers, more sales people and have put in more work. Runrate turnover for the company is around £12.5 million in the year ending November.

Having acquired the IT company (Aztec) our 2011/2012 figures are likely to be £13 to £14 million.

“Customer numbers have continued to grow. We are probably growing by 50-60 net customers per month at least. Margin has increased, particularly since mobile termination rates have dropped so we will see an increase in margins over the next four years through that.

“I don’t think customer numbers will drop; we certainly have no indication of this happening. We are not losing customers to Vodafone. We’ve had a few customers phone up about One Net but it’s not difficult to sell against. It’s very complicated and no-one seems to be totally clear about it. So, no, we haven’t lost anyone. BT came out with its One Plan Inclusive. It fits for some, but for many it’s not what they want.”

Re-brand
This was coupled with a company rebrand in April, moving away from what the team described as a consumer sounding ‘Focus 4U’, to the ‘Focus Group’.

The Group incorporates six business divisions covering voice, mobile, data, systems, IT, design and energy offering a full one-stop solution.

The re-brand was designed to make the company and what it has to off er clearer for customers to understand, with each business colour coded on the newly launched website, and to improve the overall image of the company. It’s another reason for the relocation.

“Space was the key reason, and the need to create a more appropriate environment for the company we have become,” says Goodman. “We could have moved out a lot sooner but we felt we didn’t need to. But we literally had no more space to grow the business. We were at total capacity.”

Full article in Mobile News issue 490 (June 6, 2011).

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