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Ignition holding on to identity post-Exclusive acquisition

A year and a half on from the deal, the distributor is finding that life has remained positive under fresh ownership

The usual pattern is that once a company is acquired, the business gets integrated into its larger owner, the directors slowly shuffle off to pastures new and eventually the branding is also dropped in favour of the acquirer.

Sometimes CEOs talk of taking a different approach and preserving the culture, but the examples of that happening in practice are rare. But the experience of Ignition Technology after its acquisition by Exclusive Networks looks set to become one of the case study references for what happens when those words are adhered to.

Sean Remnant, chief strategy officer at Ignition Technology, has been with the business through the entire acquisition process, which was sealed in July 2021, and has experienced a different approach being taken by Exclusive.

“The competition like to think that you’re swallowed by a large distributor,” he said. “They take your portfolio and then you disappear. That is probably the case in some acquisitions, but that hasn’t been the case here. This is 100% not the case. So we’ve still got separate P&L [profit and loss], separate management team. The culture is the same as it was, and we’re trying to build that Ignition entity and take it to EMEA and then take it worldwide.”

One of the ambitions for the business post-acquisition was that it would be able to lean on Exclusive’s global business and expand its operations. That has been happening and Ignition has moved into the Middle East and France with its identity and endpoint security portfolio and is looking to build on that with further geographical expansion next year.

“With a view of taking exactly what we’ve done before, and then taking it to the wider audience, the good thing is we can leverage our big brother for the bits they have got to help us to expand,” said Remnant.

Ignition has carved out a role identifying and bringing to the channel the next wave of security vendors and Remnant said the pace of development in the market remained high.

“They’re still coming thick and fast,” he said. “And, if anything, that’s another benefit of the Exclusive relationship, because the brand is so well known, we attract more vendors. For a vendor, it’s kind of ideal because we can provide that high-touch relationship when they’re younger, or maybe smaller in size or not as mature in terms of channel adoption. We can put our arms around them and nurture them through and then, for the ones that get bigger, we offer them a journey up.”

There also remained a need for the channel to keep an eye on emerging vendors to make sure they had the bases covered for customers and remained relevant, said Remnant.

“You might get a large partner who’s got their core four or five products, but then what they still need is a message that keeps them relevant when they’re talking to their customers. When they want to have a different conversation, or the customer says ‘what can you do there?’, they can come to us.”

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