Belfast Telegraph

Entrepreneur snaps up Connect Telecom with vow to double workforce

By Margaret Canning

Connect Telecom in Northern Ireland - the third biggest telecoms firm after BT and Rainbow - has been sold in a multi-million pound deal.

New owner Scott Ritchie, a serial entrepreneur and director of the firm for 18 months, today announced he has bought the firm outright and plans to double its workforce within a year. Connect is based on the Lisburn Road in Belfast and has 35 members of staff. It was founded in 2007 and also has offices in Glasgow.

Company founders and brothers Matthew and Robin Brown will remain with the firm. Robin Brown was former Young Businessperson of the Year in the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in 2013.

Mr Ritchie, who sold his first company in a multi-million pound deal at the age of 21, said he was pleased Robin and Matthew Brown were staying with the firm.

He has formed a new company of which he is chief executive, Connect Telecom Holdings Group, and he paid tribute to the Connect founders.

"Under their direction the company has witnessed growth of 40% year-on-year and has been recognised with industry awards and plaudits. Robin and Matthew will play a critical role as we build on that success," he said.

"Innovation in business communications has always been at the core of Connect Telecom and the next 12 months will witness our team expand considerably through acquisitions and the introduction of pioneering new services."

The purchase by Mr Ritchie has been financed by Danske Bank.

Connect has around 15,000 business customers on its books and is the only Vodafone 'platinum partner' in Northern Ireland.

Last month Connect Telecom purchased a 49% stake in Bee VM, a Belfast-based cloud solutions development company.

Matthew Brown said the company would start providing a cloud-based portal to customers using Bee VM technology.

"Assisting the business community integrate cloud computing into their organisations is a principal strand of our strategy," he said.

"We've known Scott for some time and are looking forward to working closely with him as he oversees the next chapter in the evolution of Connect Telecom."

Ian Beatty, business acquisition manager at Danske Bank, said: "Connect are in a very competitive sector but they have an experienced and ambitious management team that we're confident will lead the company to continued expansion."

Mr Ritchie's purchase is the latest corporate activity in the tech and telecoms sectors in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this year, TotalMobile secured a major investment from growth investors Lyceum Capital to fund product development and expand in the UK and abroad.

The Belfast-based business, which makes software used by over 30,000 workers in more than 200 organisations in the public and private sectors, has grown quickly over the past four years to become a leading player in the enterprise mobility market with revenues of £15m.

Belfast Telegraph