ALSO's chief exec talks about the distributor's recent wins in its logistics-as-a-service business and why a consumption model is the future for distribution
2017 has already proved an eventful year for European distributor ALSO.
Not only has the Switzerland-based firm made three sizeable acquisitions in the shape of Finnish firm Internet Smartsec, Belgian player Five 4 U and French outfit BeIP, but ALSO has set itself a €12bn revenue goal as a mid-term target.
2017 has also proved a big year for the distributor's services business, having won hefty warehousing contracts with Fujitsu, Media Markt and Swisscom.
CEO Gustavo Möller-Hergt fills in CPI Europe on what has already been a chock-a-block year for ALSO.
CPI Europe: This year ALSO set itself the mid-term target of reaching up to €12bn in annual revenues. Can you talk us through the practical steps you are looking to take to achieve this goal?
Möller-Hergt: We aim to grow both organically and by acquisitions. We are continuously working on strategic levers to expand and improve our business. We systematically expand and develop business models. We secure an attractive supplier portfolio, thus enhancing our vendor mix continuously. We develop perfectly tailored services for our resellers and optimise our reseller mix. Our product mix must always offer fast and innovative products and services with high growth potential. And of course, it is part of our day-to-day business to continuously optimise structures and processes to reduce operating cost. We are pushing these levers rigorously and I am happy to say we are doing this very well.
Our acquisition strategy is simple and very effective. We are seeking to acquire complementary businesses in countries where we have a very strong market position. In countries where we still need to strengthen our market position, we want to acquire more of the same. In countries where we are not present, we are looking for the best possible opportunity. But our acquisition policy also remains disciplined: we do not want to change our investment-grade rating.
You have made some big investments in Finland recently. You spent €20m on a new warehouse last year and you acquired Internet Smartsec this year. Why are you investing in the Finnish market, and will we see further investments in the future?
We have a market-leading position in Finland which we definitely do not want to lose. Smartsec was a smart investment. The company is specialised in network products and security solutions and thus provides the basis for IoT. We strongly believe in the growth potential of this market and our new warehouse services have already attracted new customers in Finland. We have recently won the back-end services for Fujitsu.
ALSO continued to expand its Cloud Marketplace this year. Is there evidence that expanding your cloud marketplace has been a good investment for ALSO? Can you talk us through why this is important?
The ALSO Cloud Marketplace is in fact a platform for our consumptional business. It consists of platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, software-as-a-service and devices-as-a-service, in short it is our brand for "IT as a service". We strongly believe that consumptional business is up and coming. We will expand this business model systematically. Our cloud platform is the basis for success in this field and we are confident that it is absolutely state of the art. Microsoft has recently recognised our innovation and expertise with its Distributor Partner of the Year Award.
You won a large services contract with Media Markt this year. How significant is this step for ALSO in increasing your services business - and can you see this kind of model playing a larger part in ALSO's future?
Logistics-as-a-service is an important business opportunity for ALSO. We have started in Switzerland with Swisscom, Sunrise and Media-Saturn Holding. We have recently begun to offer this service in Finland for Fujitsu and intend to expand this business step by step across Europe.
Tech Data's acquisition of Avnet TS completed in February. Have you seen any material impact in the countries where you operate? Have you been able to increase your market share as a result of this?
We have definitely increased our market shares in the countries where we operate. We do not see this as a result of this acquisition. It is clearly the outcome of our long-term strategic planning and the disciplined implementation of our growth strategy.