AVMI CEO Ed Cook says Focus 21 acquisition will accelerate growth

AVMI CEO Ed Cook says Focus 21 acquisition will accelerate growth
AVMI has acquired fellow UK headquartered integrator Focus 21 in a bid to take advantage of a “booming” global market.

The deal will see AVMI take on all Focus 21 staff, although, after 20 years at the helm, Focus 21 founders Jim Harwood and Nigel Warrilow have chosen step away from the business.

Speaking to InAVate, Ed Cook, CEO of AVMI, said the company has always seen acquisitions as a way of accelerating growth and Focus 21 “ticked all the right boxes”.

“Focus 21 has all the characteristics that we like, in terms of excellent clients, good solid long term relationships through their maintenance contracts and [in terms of location] they’re just down the road from us so good for staff crossover,” he said.

The acquisition will see AVMI – an integrator that in recent years has expanded into the USA and Hong Kong – strengthen its position in the UK. In addition, according to Cook, the deal has implications for its global activities. 

“In the UK our international clients want us to do more and more overseas, which is why we opened offices in Hong Kong and New York,” he said. “We felt we needed more resources in the group so we would have enough here in the UK to look after the business we have, but also to send our people overseas, as well as recruiting abroad.”

Cook also confirmed that overseas acquisitions were on the cards in order to for the company to continue to expand globally. 

While AVMI’s intention is to bring all Focus 21 staff on board, it will close down the company’s Camberley office. As for the brand, Focus 21 will remain for a transition period and while all contracts are honoured but is set to “quietly disappear”. 

Against a backdrop of a number of recent mergers and acquisitions across AV integration firms - as well as an increasing trend of these companies grouping into alliances - Cook commented that the change is being driven by clients. 

He said: “More and more of our big clients are saying ‘if you can’t look after Paris, New York or Singapore [offices] as well we may look to put [that business] under a big IT integrator or a telecoms integrator’. 

“We want to win that business directly from those clients where we can. But we are seeing smaller integrators lose some of their older long standing clients because those clients are looking for a one stop shop and international coverage.”

In a written statement, Focus 21 founder Jim Harwood said: “After twenty years of building up Focus 21, Nigel [Warrilow] and I have decided that the time was right to step back and to hand over the reins to AVMI. It has been a great pleasure working with all our friends and colleagues at Focus 21 and we wish them every success in the future.