A BORDERS technology business that has already been hailed as one of Britain’s fastest growing companies is set for a further wave of expansion and scores of jobs as it gains contracts with big telecoms providers.
Galashiels-based QubeGB, which supplies engineering services to the likes of TalkTalk and BT, will ramp up its operations after adding EE to its stable and is in talks with other household names such as Virgin Media.
Chief executive Mussy Kurt-Elli said the firm would take on an extra 20,000 to 40,000 assignments a month once work starts in earnest on the EE contract, which it won late last year.
“Right now we are doing 50,000 to 60,000 but we expect that to be closer to 100,000 by the end of the year,” he said.
That will mean a corresponding increase in the group’s 400-strong army of engineers, as well as increased staffing at its headquarters in Galashiels. The firm also has a warehousing and IT facility in the Hertfordshire town of Stevenage.
It follows an already vertiginous rate of expansion. The firm was included in the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 for last year after notching up a growth rate of almost 1,000 per cent.
Its listing, at number 24 (and third in the Scotland category), reflects a meteoric growth rate since the enterprise was founded by Darren Bunker and Raymond Kerr in January, 2007.
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From these small beginnings, QubeGB now boasts a workforce of 545, which could expand by as much as 50 per cent this year. Kurt-Elli thinks that now the firm is established, more work will follow.
“As a small business based in the Borders, how do we get a contract from the likes of BT?” he said. “It’s through reputation and demonstrating the delivery of our services.
“I’m confident that work from Virgin Media will come. All the new clients we gain this year will be feeding into the workload for 2016 and 2017.”
The telecoms veteran was originally a non-executive director of the firm but came out of semi-retirement to guide it through its fast growth phase.
He said: “I personally have a three-year target – that’s the time my wife has given me. It’s to take the business to a particular valuation.”
The firm is benefiting from the roll-out of fibre broadband, which is being widely used to provide “TV on demand” as well as fast internet. Kurt-Elli predicts that fast broadband will soon be regarded as a utility, almost as essential as gas and electricity.
Until about 15 months ago, the firm had just one major customer which accounted for 90 per cent of its business. TalkTalk had an exclusivity clause with QubeGB that prevented it from dealing with its competitors, but the Borders firm managed to persuade it to alter the contract.
Kurt-Elli said that it was not in the telecoms firm’s interest to have its main engineering services provider beholden to it. He is so committed to resilience of services that he recommends that his customers have a back-up agreement with another engineering company.
The firm is still reliant on a relatively small number of firms, though, especially as BT and EE are in the process of merging.
Kurt-Elli stressed that the company would not take its eye off the ball in terms of margins.
As well as managing its staffing growth, QubeGB is working with another Scottish technology success story, Livingston-based Route Monkey, to trial software that will help it maximise the efficient use of its engineers.