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Exertis talks growth and services at Plug in event

The first Plug into Exertis event has given the distributor a chance to pitch its approach to the market and talk up its commitment to innovation and services

These might be challenging times with Brexit, general elections and the recent collapse of Entatech reminding those in the channel not all is plain sailing.

But there are also plenty of opportunities out in the market, with digital transformation chief among them, and plenty of positives for the channel to talk about and it was against that background Exertis managed to pull together a crowd of around 1,000 people to its first Plug into Exertis event in West London.

Paul Bryan, managing director of Exertis, IT and mobile, said that the firm had the financial muscle from parent company DCC but had also established expertise across four areas of the market: consumer, business, enterprise and IT supplies.

"It is a tough market and a market that is consolidating. Earlier this week Entatech went into administration so it is tough trading times. If you are planning with a distributor and you are looking to get better services it can be a difficult thing to untangle if the partner you choose goes pop and isn't there anymore. That's why it is important that we have a financial powerhouse behind us [parent DCC] and we are not going anywhere," he said.

"It is a challenging market out there and we are still dealing with Brexit. We are seeing some inflation with prices, with up to 30% price hikes on some products...we have an election which also adds to the uncertainty. all of us have to be looking at our businesses to see how we can add more value," he said.

He shared a picture of a firm that was growing, operating with more than 2,000 staff and £2.5bn turnover, developing and looking for ways to expand its footprint, both geographically and from a technology point of view.

"With our organic growth we are constantly setting up new divisions and bringing in new expertise, new product sets and we are very acquisitive. We brought three business in the UK last year. Geographic expansion, it's not just UK and Ireland and across Europe but who's to say those ambitions are not global," he added.

Exertis has been busy over the course of last year not only making acquisitions of AV player Medium, Hammer with its storage and server background and Siracom for wireless but it has also been quick to identify some of the opportunities coming out of the consumer world, which should start to become commercial business for resellers.

"Smart home is a really interesting one for us. It is up year-on-year with some big brands coming through," he added "We are very focused on making sure we are bringing on the right brands and making them available to retailers."

"It is in consumer but we can see some commercial opportunities coming down the track," he said when talking about virtual reality.

He said that in its business division the addition of Medium had helped it get more of a footprint in whiteboards, large format displays and it had also been able to keep its print revenues going, which also sat in the business unit.

The Hammer acquisition wrapped up in November has already had an impact in the enterprise operation thanks to the firm's knowledge of storage and servers.

"Hammer has strengthened our server and storage portfolio. It's expertise is very much focused in the data centre," he said.

Bryan said that there had also been an increase in security sales as customers moved to make sure they were compliant and able to deal with the latest threats.

"We will be investing in innovation this year looking at where the trends and upwards curves are coming from and putting people in who can just concentrate on that space and really start to develop the story. We are already looking at a team led by a director to look into that area and start organically to start to work with some of our technologies," he said.

The distributor is also going to be banging the drum more over the services it provides resellers with support available across its technology portfolio. Earlier this month the firm revealed plans to double the amount of credit available to SME resellers as another demonstration of its commitment to support the channel.

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