of running an international business. Six years one he is happy with the progress made… “In the main, we have delivered on every promise we have made to our customers, our channel partners and our investors”.
And it is those customers that Bevington had his next message for. “We appreciate your business and your trust in us, so whatever we do we will always make sure the customer is kept happy”. Some of those customers are household names, such as Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser. Others are key public sector users such as the University of Kent and Staffordshire Police. He wouldn’t be drawn when I asked him about the rumours of a significant IP communications win against stiff competition at a very large, multinational professional services company in the City of London, but he did say that Mitel’s close working relationship with Microsoft was giving the company an edge over other IP comms vendors.
Whilst satisfied that Mitel can hold its own against the competition when needed, he was at pains to stress that he doesn’t see industry giants such as Cisco as a “natural enemy”. As Mitel is agnostic about the data network infrastructure, and the West Coast vendor is the market leader for routers and switches, Bevington thinks it would be a good thing to have closer working relationships with the company and its channel partners. “Every time we create an opportunity for ourselves, we also create an opportunity for Cisco and other data networking companies”, he said.
With respect to the channel, Graham Bevington echoed the words of his Sales Director Enda Kenneally, whom I had met with earlier that day. “We are very happy with the channel model we have now.We have reached the point where 95% of our business goes through the channel and all that remains is those customers which we are legally and/or morally bound to support directly. Whilst we may recruit new channel partners in certain strategic sectors such as ICT systems integrators (to reflect the company’s ever closer ties with Microsoft) we are not going to make the mistake of overdistributing our products. That road leads to poor margins, dissatisfied partners and ultimately, unhappy customers.”
I couldn’t leave the meeting without asking about the rumour of an impending IPO this summer that has been circulating for a few months. “If those rumours were true I couldn’t possibly comment on them”, Bevington replied. He was a little more forthcoming about the other rumour doing the rounds, that Ericsson was taking an interest in the company. “I can’t see why they would want to add another IP communications company to the pile when they will have their hands full making the Marconi acquisition work, should it go through”. “Anyway, Mitel has a very rosy future of its own, so why would he (Sir Terry) want to sell out at this time?”
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