Ringing the changes

Tech concern WIN has bagged new sales and is in takeover talks with IMImobile.

Tech concern WIN has bagged new sales and is in takeover talks with IMImobile.

Tech concern WIN has bagged new sales and is in takeover talks with IMImobile.

A rare corporate animal – a small tech firm that is profitable and dividend-paying – Buckinghamshire-based WIN is winning exciting contracts and has entered discussions with a possible bidder, IMImobile.

WIN – an acronym for ‘wireless information network’ – facilitates and manages mobile media content services for mobile telecommunications giants such as Sony Ericsson, Vodafone and T-Mobile across all platforms.
The AIM-listed firm, delivering services to over 20 countries, including Germany, Romania, Greece, Africa, Singapore and Caribbean states, helps mobile operators, content owners and large organisations (including Guardian News and Media, the BBC, the AA and Blue Arrow) to pare operational costs, generate new business and create brand loyalty with consumers.

In the new age of social media, video content and the smartphone, the fact that WIN’s systems can manage some 40 million text messages and four million picture and video messages every month on average leaves it especially well placed for growth.

Determined CEO Graham Rivers concedes that 2009 was ‘a game of two halves’, with unwanted bid discussions, subsequently terminated, and the need to integrate earlier acquisitions causing first-half distractions.
In ‘H2’, however, against a backdrop of messaging volumes picking up strongly, Rivers and his team were able to focus on developing the group’s technological offerings while expanding its footprint in technologically complex managed services.

Rivers has been successful in shifting WIN up the ‘value chain’, de-emphasising its lower-margin premium rate services and honing the focus towards higher-margin managed services and enterprise contracts.

Indeed, WIN has recently launched managed services for the likes of Vodafone, O2, Sony Ericsson and Cosmote Romania (a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom). On the enterprise side, WIN is experiencing strong growth as large companies adopt messaging for both internal and customer-facing communications – hence contracts clinched last year with the AA and Centrica, among others.

In order to ensure strong long-term growth, WIN continues to invest in its Next Generation Messaging Platform (NGMP) – a process Rivers describes as ‘replacing the wiring and plumbing in the basement’ in a move that will ‘leapfrog us into the lead in our marketplace’.

The NGMP, which Rivers expects to go live in the fourth quarter of this year, will bring substantial improvements in capacity and speed, lay a platform for speedy integration of any further acquisitions and, most importantly, improve the group’s ability to win new contracts and manage new business.
Sales grew by a creditable 10 per cent to almost £42 million last year, despite the recessionary backdrop, with WIN seeing especially strong growth in Greece and record messaging volumes in December 2009 of 52.4 million, up from 39.6 million in the same month for 2008.

Underlying pre-tax profits came in at £1.5 million, ahead of forecast, albeit down from £1.8 million in 2008, while WIN finished the year with £3.1 million cash in its coffers.

For the current year, house broker Arden Partners forecasts sales of almost £44 million, improved pre-tax profits of £1.8 million. By 2011, profits could reach £2.2 million.

Nick Britton

Nick Britton

Nick was the Managing Editor for growthbusiness.co.uk when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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