How PFH thrived as others wilted
Trail blazer: PFH group sales director Liam Halpin
Data centre upgrades and expansion by multinationals, an increase in managed services contracts and a trend for customers to consolidate suppliers helped PFH to grow its business by 18% last year.
The growth figure does not include acquisitions during the year. PFH bought Redstone Technology from its UK parent for €2.5 million in cash in November and snapped up the Irish arm of Siemens Enterprise Communications in a “multi-million euro acquisition” in May.
PFH group sales director Liam Halpin, speaking to Irish Computer, outlined what he described as the three key elements to the reseller’s growth.
As well as winning a number of data centre upgrade and expansion projects with some multinational customers in Ireland, PFH enjoyed “significant growth” in its ‘custodian managed services’ where customers outsourced helpdesk and infrastructure management to the reseller, enabling their internal IT to focus on ERP and line of business work, or LoB.
The company had also been able to help customers in their move to consolidate vendor numbers because it had access to most brands at top-level discount. Where it did not, customers had been happy to instruct vendors to release their pricing to PFH, said Halpin.
Another important issue was PFH’s “debt free status and access to credit lines”, which enabled it to handle large-scale projects that might have “financially crippled some smaller organisations”.
Halpin claimed the reduction in credit facilities available in the channel meant a number of customers had run into difficulties with continuity of supply from smaller resellers. PFH had won a number of new customers from other providers suffering from resource or finance issues.
“We’ve found that larger customers expect their IT suppliers to have the same sort of resilience as they demand in their IT systems,” he said. “After all, your supplier is a potential ‘point of failure’ to your business.”
On 2011, Halpin said PFH planned more of the same. “Already we have signed a significant managed service for a leading hotel chain, a Microsoft consultancy contract with a large bank, and a server supply contract with one of the larger government departments, so it’s looking like our growth trend is continuing.”
The acquisition of Redstone, a long-established player in enterprise storage and servers, professional services, consulting, logistics and maintenance (since its days as Xpert Group), also helped bolster PFH’s presence in the HP market. Buying the Irish arm of Siemens Enterprise Communications, with its voice and unified communications expertise, enabled PFH to “make a convergence play” in the words of managing director Paul Hourican.