Telecoms company's success is more than just talk

IT is said that communication is the key. And for Edinburgh telecoms firm Commsworld, this mantra seems to be paying off.

A major new investment and the appointment of a top financier to its board mean there is growing hope for continuing business success at the company's Peffer Place headquarters.

As one of the country's most advanced independent telecoms firms, Commsworld already delivers hi-tech communications solutions to thousands of Scottish businesses.

But now the firm has secured a further 700,000 of investment, it is expected to go from strength to strength.

David McKenzie, a co-founder of the business along with Richard Nicol, says: "These are incredibly exciting times for our company.

"Developments in the ICT [integrated communication technology] market are changing the way many businesses interact with their own staff and are enhancing their customer relations."

One of the investors to pile into the latest fund-raising was Ian Blackford, former managing director of Deutsche Bank's Netherlands-based equity business and a heavyweight financier.

Initially involved in an advisory capacity for the cash-raising exercise, Mr Blackford was so impressed by the Commsworld set-up that he chose to invest in it himself and landed a place on the board alongside Malcolm McPherson, the executive chairman of law firm Henderson Boyd Jackson and a former Hibs chairman.

Mr McKenzie said: "Ian Blackford's appointment to our board is a significant move for Commsworld and one which will help us in our drive to become the ICT partner of choice in Scottish business."

Commsworld was founded just over a decade ago in 1994, originally as a reseller of telephone systems.

However, it has managed to survive one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the telecoms sector, including the dotcom crash of early 2000. While its competitors were bogged down in industry-wide job cuts and profit warnings, Commsworld's advanced communication solutions saw it attract hundreds of thousands of pounds in funding from a small number of investors.

Around 100,000 of the latest round of cash came from the firm's own directors. More came from bank facilities provided by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Overall, the additional funding will contribute to a campaign to reach Scotland's principal enterprise firms, Mr McKenzie says.

With 45 staff members working from three offices, the company now serves 2500 customers across Scotland.

It believes its one-stop-shop principle is responsible for an annual turnover of around 4.6 million in 2004.

And with strong growth expected in ICT, which includes voice-over-the-internet technology, the group believes it is ideally positioned for further growth.

At present, the firm has an extensive customer base across central Scotland, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises.

Thanks to the new funding, Commsworld will look to expand its portfolio to encompass more clients in the medium to large enterprise sector. The firm has set itself a target of 40 per cent growth by the end of 2006.

Reflecting on the unique position it occupies in the Scottish market, Mr McKenzie says: "People won't buy technology for technology's sake. They only buy it if it makes them more efficient, cuts costs and improves business."