Itec's R100m UK invasion
Local office automation, printing and telecommunications group Itec is pushing R100 million into its newly-established UK operations, and is aiming to acquire British competitors.
This cash injection looks set to be followed by more, says Itec group CEO Jacques Duyver, adding that the company's move into the UK market is imperative.
"The UK market is changing rapidly. Currently, it has about 900 office automation companies, which is set to be reduced to about 40 within the next five years," says Duyver. "We want to be one of that 40, so - with the consolidation that is happening now - we can't wait to make a move."
Duyver says, in the last two months, he has been introducing himself and the company to "literally 100s of the existing companies in the UK" and has received some solid feedback from quite a few.
To date, Duyver says he has identified three potential takeover targets, and is currently in discussions with this group.
"We are looking at acquiring businesses in the UK," he states, "so if we spend our first R100 million in the first six months, so be it."
According to Duyver the initial cash push into the UK could, therefore, very well be followed by more. However, the company is also in talks with potential British backers in a bid to access the ever-powerful pound.
While other companies are bemoaning a weak rand and tough international economic conditions, Duyver says Itec is not prone to doing what the market expects of it.
"A market like this has a lot of opportunities - what better time to buy than when it's not looking good for the competitors?" he asks.
Itec is already present in countries across Southern Africa, including Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
However, Duyver says the South African side of the company's operations will not suffer because of the activities in the UK.
"There are massive opportunities in SA," he insists. "We're in telecommunications, we've recently moved into power solutions, and we are looking at CCTV - we are definitely not downscaling in SA."
Itec is in the process of setting up a central call centre in SA to consolidate its 50-odd existing help-desk locations. This operation is only just starting up and will most likely be outsourced, says Duyver.
The company's head office will remain in SA. The group employs more than 800 staff directly and indirectly.