IT and communications provider Easy Group may not be the biggest dealer on the south coast, but as Michael House reports, a recent acquisition and a restructure mean Easy is getting very ambitious
Hampshire is home to some of the largest and most established B2B mobile dealers in the UK.
Vodafone platinum partners Premier Telecom and Excalibur Communications and O2 Centre of Excellence dealer Aerial Telephones all have offices in the south coast region.
Portsmouth-based IT and communications provider Easy Group, by its own admission, is not yet one of the “big boys” when its comes to mobile business.
But according to its managing director Simon Mewett, that is about to change, following a recent restructure that now allows it to tick all must-have boxes across the IT and telecoms sector.
“We are a complete connectivity solutions provider,” says Mewett. “The opportunities for us are immense.”
The company was founded by current project director Richard Gwilliam in 1991. Working from his garage and trading as Easy Networks, he built fixed-line telephone network cables for local schools.
Twenty years on, the company is unrecognisable from its former self. After moving to a new premises in Portsmouth in 2005, the company is now made up of four divisions, providing what it calls a complete unified offering to B2Bs, education and the public sector.
Mewett, who joined the company in 2003, says Easy has become an established brand within Hampshire and the surrounding areas for IT and fixed-line and claims a customer base of about 800.
Mewett had previously worked as operations director for Wimbledon-based Internet Network Services and has more than 20 years’ experience in telecoms. He is an ambitious man. Even his LinkedIn profile lists ‘acquisitions’ and ‘opportunities’ as his interests.
Both he and Gwilliam have been prominent in the company’s recent change in fortunes, with a rapid restructure and rebrand.
In 2010, Mewett transformed the business, dividing it into four companies under the newly created Easy Group umbrella.
Its fixed-line business, which he claims had seen considerable growth in the previous five years, was separated from Easy Networks to become Easy Telephone.
Easy Telephone buys its lines and packages from BT Wholesale. It also has relationships with other providers, including TalkTalk, Opal and Cyber Net for its broadband offerings. The company offers data services such as VoIP, including multi and single site, and hosted solutions.
Notable customers include the Universities of Portsmouth, Chichester, and Southampton, as well as a range of local schools.
In May this year Easy Group acquired Kent-based IT hardware and solution provider Kent IT for an undisclosed fee, rebranding it Easy Computers.
The deal saw it gain an additional 500 new customers based around the south-east. Easy can now offer a full IT portfolio of hardware and software services, including Cloud computing, website design, WAN routing, disaster recovery, antivirals and VPN solutions.
Expansion is very much the theme at Easy Group, with Mewett declaring the capture of Kent IT as the first but “not the last”. He claims to be constantly on the look out for any potential targets across all sectors of IT and telecom that will improve the company’s standing.
“The acquisition was made to get the group into another county; the company, like ours, had a good client base and gives us a basis to expand there. It won’t be the last,” says Mewett.
“We have a massive expansion plan to grow the business. The recent acquisition of Kent IT is a fantastic boost to our portfolio of solutions.”
Arguably the biggest potential growth area, and one that cements the other three businesses under the Easy Group umbrella together, is mobile.
Easy Mobile began trading last year after forming relationships with airtime distributors Daisy Distribution and Avenir Telecom for Vodafone, Orange and O2 connections. It has also set up accounts with Data Select for the buying of stock and accessories.
The man tasked with driving the mobile business is Easy Mobile sales director Jim Guest – who met Mewett when he arrived at the Easy Group offices looking for a business mobile contract.
A veteran in the industry, Guest started his career with Portsmouth-based dealer Lynncom in 1993. From there he moved to MPC in Fareham, before joining Southampton dealer KJC, where he was tasked with setting up the company’s corporate division. His last stint before joining Easy Group came at Gosport-based Fonetrader, where he headed up the business division.
And Guest describes the opportunity for the business as “immense” due to its ability to cross-sell between each business under the Group’s umbrella.
He claims the “unique” opportunities at his disposal to cross-sell over Easy Group’s entire customer base is something he hasn’t come across in the industry.
“Ultimately what we are trying to do is sign all our clients up to all the other products we have on offer,” says Guest. “We have the full suite, which is brilliant for the customer.
“We haven’t had to go out and find new business, because there is new business within each business we already have, for each other business in the group.
“It means we have been able to cut down on things like marketing and telesales activity to win the business. So it’s a win-win for us.”
Full article in Mobile News issue 499 (October 10, 2011).
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