Belfast Telegraph

Strategic partners vital to executing plan for growth

By Scott Ritchie

Whilst many businesses will claim to have a growth strategy, it's likely they're referring to growth ambitions rather than an actual strategy.

Actually achieving growth requires detailed planning and a very deliberate approach, but in many cases it is only realised through the adoption of strategic partners. Our ability to build meaningful partnerships throughout our whole supply chain is integral to our ability to grow and in turn deliver excellence in customer service.

At Connect Telecom, we have had a long-standing relationship with our network partner Vodafone. This is a partnership that has grown even stronger over the last number of years, with Connect being the sole Vodafone Total Communications Partner in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Alongside this strong relationship with Vodafone, I have invested considerable time building a team of high performing individuals both inside Connect and from outside advisers. Our financial partner, Danske Bank, has been instrumental from the outset. When I acquired Connect Telecom in November 2015 the investment was supported by the bank.

At the time we vowed to double the workforce within a year, which we did. Since then, we have turned our attention to growing the business through the acquisition of other Vodafone partners and telecoms companies throughout the UK.

Most recently, and with further support from Danske Bank, Connect Telecom purchased the mobile base of one of the UK's leading managed service providers, GCI.

In early May this year, we completed the acquisitions of Aberdeen-based Coltel and Carlisle-based Nortech.

These acquisitions have seen Connect treble in size in terms of customers and connections

Thanks to support from our partners, we now have a truly UK-wide network. We are headquartered in Belfast, but with offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Carlisle, Manchester and now an expanded operation in London with more than 45,000 connections throughout the UK and Ireland.

The deal with GCI was much more than an acquisition.

It gave us access to a Skype for Business platform from GCI to support our growing unified communications requirements across our base.

This enables us to deliver a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leading Unified Communications service to our customers, and at the same time optimised support for our traditional Vodafone customers with the Vodafone suite of services - including One Net.

We've always provided our customers with pioneering mobility services, in essence a roadmap to utilise the latest technologies, unifying their business communications, and this will continue.

Our relationship with Danske Bank now extends beyond financial support and the partnership, I believe, has been instrumental to the company's rapid growth.

Whilst access to finance is one vital ingredient for growth, reliable, trustworthy legal advice is also invaluable - particularly for acquisitions in multiple locations where jurisdictions may vary.

Working closely with MTB Solicitors, we have availed of sound counsel from initial acquisition research right through to the completion of contracts. Access to the guidance and advice of such an experienced team has allowed the acquisitions to move at pace and maintain the growth momentum within the market.

Further acquisition and expansion is on the radar for Connect Telecom which is now the largest unified communications provider in Northern Ireland and Scotland and the only Vodafone Total Communications Partner in both countries.

Having successfully navigated 18 months of growth we now have developed an ecosystem of skills far beyond just Connect Telecom.

Our relationships with our strategic partners enable us to punch above our weight and collaborate with like-minded, ambitious associates, who have taken the time to invest in understanding our strategy and how they can help us execute our plan for growth, which is only just beginning.

  • Scott Ritchie is chief executive of Connect Telecom. For further information visit or text 'CONNECT' to 60777

Belfast Telegraph