Orange principal partner Voice Mobile is looking to buy an IT company in 2013 as part of plans to develop its services beyond traditional voice and calls.
The dealer already trades through a specially created IT division but MD Ian Watson (pictured) told Mobile that he wants to speed up growth in that part of the business through acquisition. He said: ‘We want to become a more IT-focused business. We want to jump into the space computer companies occupy before they try to get into our space. We want our customers to trust us more than their computer suppliers.’
‘We have substantial funds within the business – £1.8m in cash – so if the right opportunity comes along we will go for it.’
Voice Mobile’s customer base has grown 20% over the past year to more than 31,000 customers and Watson is predicting a further 20% growth over the next 12 months. Growth has been strong with annual turnover increasing by a third to £8m in the year to December 2012. In the 12 months to August, Voice Mobile connected 8,600 handsets.
Voice Mobile is also looking to build its sales team to help drive further growth. The business operates out of the Fort Dunlop building in Birmingham and currently employs 36 staff. Watson wants to increase sales staff by at least 30% in 2013.
More than 24,000 of Voice Mobile’s 31,000 customers are business customers. These range from small one-man businesses taking just one connection to corporate customers taking up to 500 connections. Over 97% of Voice Mobile customers connect with Orange. The company also connects to T-Mobile, and EE as well as having a small base of Vodafone connections.
Watson said the dealer is looking at both its consumer and business base for growth, rather than a specific push on b2b. He said: ‘We are big in the b2b space and so we plan to use that b2b base to expand our consumer customer base through, for example, offering special deals to staff.’
Average customer ARPU is running at just over £40 with churn levels running at 8%. ‘That is very low but still not low enough for me,’ said Watson. He said churn level was driven by a focus on customer service. ‘You only get to keep a customer once. We may lose them occasionally on price but we do not lose them because they are unhappy with our service.’
The company is also turning its sights to the emerging connected devices market. Voice Mobile is one of EE’s select group of 4G b2b partners. Watson said: ‘The speed of 4G will allow devices to connect properly for the first time. Our phones can now control all sorts of other devices generating all sorts of opportunities for our customers. So it is a big opportunity for us to create new solutions for our customers.’