The Next Step

Darren---Proximity

Last month saw Maintel acquire unified communications provider Proximity for £9.6 million as the company embarks on a period of solid growth. Eddie Buxton, CEO of Maintel and Darren Boyce, former CEO of Proximity, joined Comms Business to talk about the next phase of growth after the deal.

 

Comms Business (CB): How did this deal come about and tell us where this deal puts you in terms of turnover now?

Eddie Buxton (EB): According to the FinnCap report that came out recently they predict we will hit £54.9m in turnover by the end of next year. We feel that is a conservative figure but to put it into perspective five years ago Maintel was turning over approximately £19m.

Darren Boyce (DB): For the last five years Proximity has gone through a lot of growth and we have added a lot of good people to the team. That five year phase was all about getting Proximity to a competitive level in the enterprise space. At the beginning of this year we started to look at how we could grow into the next phase and how we might raise the corporate finance to do so. When we were talking to our agents they actually turned that question around and asked if we had thought about growing by being acquired rather than acquiring businesses ourselves. It’s a tough thing to do and you have to look at every option when you go through this as a company. It’s also important to not just focus on the size of the deal but the right sort of deal for the business and the acquirer too. We have also spent a lot of time planning what we do post deal, I think a lot of people spend too much time on the deal and not enough on what happens afterwards.

CB: Can we expect the Proximity brand is disappear now?

DB: The beauty of the Proximity and Maintel brands are they are both very strong and we have both spent a lot of time developing those brands with people like Comms Business. I feel there is still a lot of value in the Proximity brand.

EB: I agree, we both have strong reputations in the market and the deal is going to enhance our services for our customers so I think we would be stupid to throw the Proximity brand away. There will be discussions over the next few months about what the best thing to do with the brand will be but ultimately that decision hasn’t been made. Historically we have incorporated acquired brands under the Maintel banner but we are yet to decide if this is a path we follow again.

CB: Can we expect to see redundancies and office closures to follow?

EB: Maintel is based in Central London and we will continue to man that site. Proximity are based in Thatcham and we have made a strong statement to our employees and customers there that the intention is to maintain that site and grow it further. Our key office will remain in London but we will lose some of the smaller offices in London because it makes sense for all the staff to be in the same place.

This is primarily a growth opportunity and not a consolidation exercise but obviously there will be some small overlaps in places which we can look at in time.

DB: The reality is there are always going to be concerns about roles but the one thing I know is that both companies value their talent. There may be some movement with job roles but as Eddie said this is all about growth and that growth and demand will inevitably require more job roles. I’ve been in Proximity since day one and I look at it as my baby which is why I have joined the board at Maintel as a non-exec director to help shape the transition and Eddie and the team have my full confidence.

CB How do you envisage the companies dovetailing together?

DB: From my point of view, the wonderful thing that the two companies have is that we are both well recognised as suppliers of Avaya. Proximity has just become a platinum partner so you have two platinum partners coming together with a strong skill base. We have being doing a lot on the data infrastructure, wireless and security side and this is an area where Maintel will vastly improve from our products and skill set. Avaya is probably 80% of our business at the moment and we have walked away from other business because other vendors existed there and we didn’t have the skill set or expertise and with the companies coming together now the sales guys will be able to address that and deliver a much more rounded proposition.