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Education growth bolsters Academia fiscal year

MSP shares details of how 2020 went, with the results making it clear that the education market and the public sector have continued to invest in tech

Managed services provider (MSP) The Academia Group has reported decent numbers for its latest fiscal year as the business looks to continue on its growth trajectory, picking up customers and gaining share.

The firm reported that for the year ended 31 December 2020, sales grew 17% year-on-year, profits improved from £754,000 to £1.6m and profit margin also improved by 79%.

The firm specialises in targeting the education and public sector, which continued spending in the past year as they responded to the pandemic.

Recent results from Softcat and Bytes Group have also echoed the ongoing strength in the public sector market, and the government has indicated that it is also committed to rolling out more technology in education as it looks to increase adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality along with the shift to the greater use of online tools.

“Every indication is that demand for Academia’s IT services, particularly centred on thousands of schools, colleges and universities across the UK, will grow considerably throughout the rest of 2021 and beyond,” said Mark McCormack, chief commercial officer at The Academia Group.

“A large part of this change was [due to] the pandemic, which has driven change throughout the sector. 2020 will be remembered as the year that millions of children were forced to leave their classrooms and start learning online – and the UK edtech sector and The Academia Group were there to help,” added McCormack.

The firm also took steps to bolster its financial team with the appointment of a finance director, Paul Nikolov, who has experience in IT services and e-commerce sectors.

Academia’s performance rewards the decision by Strive Capital, an investment firm owned by Andrew Harman, the founder of Annodata, to acquire the business and its subsidiaries in 2019.

“Academia has excellent heritage in providing IT services, particularly to thousands of schools, colleges and universities across the UK, and has a very strong and experienced management team. That said, the past year has been one of the most challenging I can ever remember, and despite that – and the lockdowns which impacted the education sector so profoundly – the business has simply gone from strength to strength,” said Harrman.

Academia recently announced it has retained its Rank 1 status on the National framework agreement for products using Apple-native operating systems, associated accessories and services, which is the fifth year the business has retained the framework.

“As the business continues to grow, now is the time to expand the management team and continue to build on our framework approach to supercharge our growth into 2022 and beyond,” he added.

Speaking to MicroScope last month, Mara Pereira, director of SBU peripherals Europe at Tech Data, said education buyers had been investing in tools to support changes in learning and the market was set for continued growth.

“So back to school, it will be always back to school,” she said. “We see the spike of the sales and we see manufacturers adapting, and we see forecasts done in January for supply needs by September, so the seasonality will not change and it’s still there. But the consumption is more moderate, so instead of having a huge spike of sales in July, August, September, you already have also in Christmas, because people are investing in different devices and peripherals because of the need for renewal.”

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