IT reseller wanted
Econocom is on the acquisition path as it plans continued growth in the UK. Technology Reseller finds out more from North America, UK & IRL Managing Director Frances Weston.
Econocom, self-styled digital general contractor, is on the acquisition trail as it seeks to expand and strengthen its UK presence using a model that has served the Group well in continental Europe. Frances Weston, Managing Director of Econocom North America, UK & IRL, told Technology Reseller that the company was hoping to make a UK acquisition by the end of Q2 and is inviting interested IT resellers or consultants that specialise in finding acquisition targets to come forward.
She said: “We have acquired 40 businesses across Europe, and this move is part of that satellite strategy to expand our footprint and embody our ‘one company, one digital’ strategy. For us, that means having full service digital, starting with distribution, moving onto financing and then moving to parts and services. We are really just recreating the footprint that has been so successful in France and Benelux, Italy and Spain.”
As a digital general contractor, Econocom aims to provide clients with the financing, technology and services needed for digital projects, and it is the second of these three pillars that Weston is seeking to strengthen through acquisition.
“IT resellers have a certain proportion of hardware sales, software sales and managed services. We want more hardware and software sales than managed services, because we believe there is residual value in hardware and software,” she said. Key targets are suppliers with annual revenues of between £100 million and £150 million, specialising in AV, digital signage, Apple products or standard office IT brands like Lenovo, HP or Samsung. Weston said: “It needs to be somewhat sector-agnostic. A lot of resellers are very much focused on education, but we already own a business like that, so we want this one to be much more tilted to B2B. It doesn’t have to have a national presence, and ideally shouldn’t have too many people or provide much of the day-to-day customer support. It would work very well if they subcontracted that. “The other piece is the pipeline around asset serviceability. It would be a good fit if they were already having leasing discussions or as-a-service discussions on purchase – i.e. customers with an interest in that side of things that it hasn’t yet fully exploited.”
Since joining Econocom last year, Weston and her 30-strong team have taken on responsibility for the Group’s North American business as well as its UK division, with the intention of creating a ‘transatlantic powerhouse’ able to identify
opportunities and do transactions on both sides of the pond.
“We are doing some really good things in the automotive industry over there. We are doing a lot of projects in digital transformation in credit unions, which are a little bit like our building societies, and we are working across retail. We have one very large retail transaction that we have just closed in 12 countries in Europe and we are going to do the same thing in 2022 in the United States, which we will start planning in Q4,” she said. Weston points out that expansion in North America, including the relocation of its regional HQ from Montreal to New York, will help Econocom meet the more complex needs of its expanding roster of multinational customers. “We have more international clients – very much household names – and are moving into the provision of bespoke structuring for multinationals that have several entities and don’t necessarily want to go local everywhere. In the case of a large retailer that might have 40, 50, 60 presences in different countries, we will ask them to tell us where they want to do business and how they want to contract and will work around that and the associated tax implications. We are now doing much more niche structured financing, in addition to bread and butter annuity,” she said. Weston adds that while Econocom continues to provide standard IT, laptops, mobility and Work from Home solutions, domestic clients, too, are increasingly demanding bespoke technical solutions to advance their businesses, which plays to its ‘one digital, one company’ strategy.
Visibility and control
In this context, she highlights two new pieces of software that Econocom has developed and is rolling out across the 18 countries in which it operates. One, called AKEN, tracks a customer’s technology throughout its lifecycle so that the client can see where its fleet of Apple phones, say, will end up at end of life.
“That is a wonderful CSR pitch when attracting new talent and it has also enabled us to win more tenders,” said Weston. “We have been able to be much more transparent with end clients when it came to nitty gritty questions about e-waste. Sometimes, when price has been negotiated, winning comes down to going above and beyond. We can demonstrate our ability to do that on the refurbishment side.”
The other is an asset management and e-procurement tool called Houston, which Econocom has implemented for a large automotive company in the US and which it will now be extending to its UK operations. As well as monitoring who is using what asset, where and when, this tool enables users to buy products from an approved list, on the fly, on a lease or CAPEX basis. After a period of consolidation, Econocom is eyeing sustainable growth by providing customers with a full spectrum of solutions, including technology, financing and services. In the UK, the acquisition of an IT reseller will provide a springboard for productive, in-depth engagement with clients seeking a partner that can help them negotiate the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation.
Originally published in Technology Reseller Magazine.