What were the first three months of the year like for CCS Media?
We finished the first quarter with £ 79 million, which is a 24% annual increase – so it was a really encouraging and strong quarter for us. We managed to trade with 6,500 customers during the quarter. Our public and private enterprises have grown and all technological areas are showing positive results.
In particular, the services and solutions business has invested heavily in CCS Media in terms of time, money and resources and is beginning to gain momentum, which is encouraging.
But in reality we still have only part of the market. We have a small market share in terms of the total customer base that we could trade with, which is mainly SMB and lower customer segments in the middle market. When we analyze costs with clients, we still have a little over 20% share of our clients’ portfolio.
What trends did you see from your customers during the quarter?
We see that customers are really starting to invest, starting in the second half of last year, in infrastructure projects and data center projects. This is an area that is still caused by product constraints and there are definitely still some winners and losers in this market from the supplier’s point of view. We work hard with our customers to build their data center and network infrastructure so that we can maintain flexible operations, as well as hybrid environments so that people can work in offices or remotely.
The feedback we get from customers is that this is a continuous journey and organizations are working on how best to invest and find a balance between home and office. We just work with our clients – we don’t do anything fantastic; we just listen and make sure we develop capabilities within the organization and have partnerships with the right manufacturers and distributors to serve these customers. We stick to our knitting as we invest to build depth to the width we already have.
How does CCS Media invest internally and in the long run?
We work really hard and put a lot of effort into social diversity and outreach programs, where we work with local communities and education, to help promote pathways for people in industry.
We did a lot of work in Q1 in this area. As part of this work, we also started a breakfast club. It is shocking to think that there are children who do not start the day positively and do not eat hot food, or do not get breakfast and go to school hungry. It’s early days – we just started this quarter by supporting one of the local schools near one of our offices and now we support 120 children to eat hot every day. That’s not enough – but it’s a start.
We spend a lot of time thinking about social diversity and giving people a positive opportunity to join our industry. However, if people do not receive food, then they will not think about developing their careers at this stage. What we realized is that there is a lot more support from the community that we can give as part of these promotion programs. This is a really important initiative that is much bigger than CCS Media and is something that everyone can get involved in.
We also launched a program called Pause for Reflection. This is a program for awareness and support for menopause within the organization. It’s still shockingly considered a rather taboo subject, and I think people will probably even raise their eyebrows when they hear me talk about it. But the reality is that this is a part of life that affects every single employee in an organization – directly or indirectly. We have 30 percent of our employees who are women and almost 50 percent of our management are women, so we have a very encouraging diversity ratio as an organization.
It’s about making sure that topics like this, whether it’s mental health, menopause, or any kind of support that someone needs, are really fundamental to building a truly positive organization. Only when people are successful in the organization can the organization itself be successful. And the layering within that feeling creates a positive experience – that’s really important. This is beyond diversity and speaks to the involvement and well-being of all employees. And this is something that we all need to take very seriously and support with action, not just words.
This is not something we have created in isolation as a separate HR project – the whole organization and every single business leader has participated in the initiative. And the feedback we received about the openness and courage to talk about it was extremely positive. What we are trying to create is an authentically positive business.
How has Q2 been so far?
Q2 started really positive and we ended Q1 with a significant reverse order. There are definitely still obstacles with product constraints, but the organization’s overall performance remains encouraging.
CRN’s top VARs showed that the largest companies in our industry, including CCS Media, continue to grow, while smaller businesses report stable or declining revenues. How large is your scale in today’s market?
The scale definitely helps, we are a comprehensive organization. Although trading with 6,500 customers in the first quarter was high, we still have a small market share. Having scale helps to stimulate investment in internal capabilities – it’s hard to do this unless you have volume in your organization.
We have a scale for trading clients in the SMB market segment, which we believe is underserved. However, our largest client accounts for two percent of revenue for the first quarter, so there is still work to be done in terms of depth.
We are not complacent in any way; we don’t look at business performance thinking we’re happy or satisfied. We have a small market share and a good portfolio share with our customer base and both could be better and this is where the opportunity lies.