SCG swoops on Pile

Former Gamma Business MD Daryl Pile is poised to take the Southern Communications Group (SCG) helm as CEO in a move that sees long-term Chief Exec Paul Bradford assume the Executive Chairman role.

Here, Bradford shares insights into SCG’s strengthening fire power, growing scale and expanding capabilities as an independent fast growing MSP, and why Pile is the right leader to catalyse the business to the next level.

The appointment of Pile as CEO is a tremendous coup for SCG and has created palpable excitement throughout the business. He’s been at the heart of Gamma’s rapid growth and displays the breadth and depth of experience, expertise, commitment, drive and energy Bradford was looking for as part of his forward planning. “Daryl is joining the team at a time of aggressive fast growth, both acquisitively and organically,” stated Bradford. “SCG needs someone of his calibre and experience.”

It is perhaps a little known fact that SCG is the only independently owned MSP of stand-out scale. In May 2016, 32.5 per cent of the company was sold to Livingbridge and in 2021 an Ares backed management buyout brought ownership back in house. “Owning the whole of the business is a unique position to be in, and with Ares behind us we have huge firepower when making the right strategic and scale acquisitions,” stated Bradford. “As the market shifts into all-MSP, that’s where we will evolve to.”

The company began its commercial life in 1965 and Bradford joined the business in 1995, boosting headcount to four with a £100k turnover in the first year. Today, SCG has EBITDA approaching £50 million with run rate revenue of over £160 million and operates out of 12 offices including one in South Africa. Its core focus is the UK where it serves the SME, public, third sector and enterprise markets via a channel of over 450 partners and its own direct sales and shared service support centres. The company employs 750-plus people servicing over 30,000 customers supported by its own SIP platform (Fuse2), Tier 2 ISP network and two hosted telephony platforms.

Having joined up its foundational technology infrastructure SCG now provides a holistic solution model supported by its own IP and centred on the customer. With all this in place the business is going full steam ahead with its strategy – and you won’t be surprised to learn that Bradford is forecasting another strong performance from SCG this year and beyond, with continued organic and acquisitive growth spurred by the appointment of Pile whose catalytic role is to supercharge the existing growth model into its next phase rather than reinvent the wheel.

Daryl’s been instrumental in rapidly scaling Gamma with energy and enthusiasm and his track record and leadership distinction aligns perfectly with our trajectory

“We doubled our business in the last three years and will follow the same strong growth plan,” stated Bradford. “SCG is growing aggressively and not slowing down so we need a leader with Daryl’s qualities to drive the business along the pathway we have been successfully following. He’s been instrumental in rapidly building and scaling Gamma with energy and enthusiasm and his track record and leadership distinction aligns perfectly with our trajectory.”

Bradford also noted that SCG is a thriving software and development house and that another strategically pivotal differentiator for the business is that it owns its IP. “Having our own IP gives us full control,” added Bradford. “That’s important because the customer is at the centre of SCG’s universe and our 4.9 Trust Pilot rating is hard won, underpinned by having full control over the services and products we offer.”

To reiterate, SCG is one of the comms sector’s most active acquirers with 40 acquisitions completed to date. “The SCG team is good at catching the evolution of the market at the right time and our acquisition strategy supports this approach,” explained Bradford. “Two examples are the purchase of MyPhones in 2018 which gave us our hosted telephony platform and the acquisition of X-on and its Surgery Connect platform in 2022. Completed deals to date also include IT services businesses and we’re bringing these together as an offering, building out our IT and cyber capabilities.”

Core quality
Bradford emphasised that ‘quality’ across a range of metrics resides at the core of SCG’s ongoing acquisition strategy. “We’re looking for next generation, solid, well run, low churn businesses with long-term customers at the centre of their universe,” he added. “Owning IP is also attractive along with a long-term track record of commitment. The average tenure for an acquired business owner is 22 years.”

Bradford also took a characteristic long-term view in his search for the right fit CEO, looking at a ten year horizon and taking the necessary steps to ensure continued long-term growth and that SCG’s people remain comfortable with the business’ stability and continuing success. He announced Pile as SCG’s incoming CEO (expected to take post in September) ahead of taking up his new role as Executive Chairman. As part of the leadership change Non Exec Chair David Goldie, who’s been with the business since 2016, becomes Non-Executive Vice Chairman.

A key focus for Bradford will be developing verticals including the health sector where SCG is driving hard and boosting its presence in the English medical vertical underpinned by X-on’s hosted telephony platform, which is fast expanding into Scotland and Wales. Bradford will also double down on SCG’s acquisition strategy while realising the full potential of its IP.

“We will explore more verticals and leverage our own IP which makes us nimble,” added Bradford. “I will also drive forward with X-on while Daryl comes in as CEO with a focus on the telecoms aspect which is the fastest growing and biggest part of the business. Daryl’s experience, depth of knowledge, reputation and energy is fantastic.”

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