Unified comms provider Alternative Networks is strengthening its management team to help drive its plans for growth this year.
CEO James Murray (pictured) will become executive chairman, whilst CFO Edward Spurrier will be promoted to the role of chief executive. The company is also on the hunt for a new CFO.
Murray will focus on company strategy including new acquisitions, whilst Spurrier will run the day-to-day business. The company has also appointed Bernard Cragg, former Arcadia Group CFO, as deputy chairman. Mark Quartermaine, former CEO at Azzurri, joins the team as a non-executive director.
The management changes follow strong growth last year. Alternative Networks’ latest results show a 35% rise in the company’s operating profits to £12.6m in the year to the end of September 2012, despite a 2% fall in revenues to £114.8m. The company attributed the falling sales to declining levels of public sector work in the face of the economic recession, which hit its IP networks and PBX revenues. EBITDA increased by 24% to £15.3m whilst pre-tax profits were up 36% at £12.7m.
Speaking to Mobile, Murray said: ‘We made the management changes to give us the strength and depth to move to the next stage of our growth.
‘We have a very focused route to market, a diverse product set and a customer portal which differentiates us in the market and now, with our strengthened management team, we are more than ready to consider further acquisitions this year.’
The group will continue to pursue its twin strategy of organic and acquisitive growth. In the year to September 2012, Alternative Networks, which has around 5,000 customers, mainly in the SME market, delivered organic growth of 5%. It is also looking to buy at least one new business this year. Murray said: ‘We are keen to make another acquisition. We have the money in the bank and we have no debt so we are in the right position.’
Murray said the group’s next purchase is most likely to be a data company, although he added: ‘If the right opportunity came along in mobile we would definitely take a look.’
The company, which connects to Vodafone and O2, grew its mobile base by 13% to over 77,000 connections last year. It also recently renewed its service provider framework license with O2 to July 2015 and the managed base service agreement to September 2015.
Murray said Synapse, the group’s customer portal, had driven mobile connections growth, seeing 100% customer usage in 2012. The portal added new features including case reporting and order tracking across all products, interactive financial reporting and analysis tools for spend and usage trends.
Murray said: ‘We have seen a lot of success off the back of the portal, giving us growth in mobile with our mobile churn at an all time low. This is our unique selling point – there is no other portal like it on the market.’
The group is also on a recruitment drive with plans to take on another 15 sales executives this quarter, boosting the sales team by 8% and adding muscle to Alternative Networks’ aggressive cross-selling strategy, which focuses on its 1,500 high-spending customers. Murray said: ‘We are the strongest and best at cross-selling in our market space. Over 79% of our high-spending customers take more than one product from us with 65% taking three or more products – these are extremely high rates compared to our competitors.’