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By | Paul Kunert 12th September 2011 08:29

BT channel overlord ponders still-bigger empire

Dissatisfied with diet of organically grown customers

The CEO of BT's newly integrated reseller firm is aiming to build a £1bn operation in the next three to five years, but said he does not expect organic growth alone to help it get there – acquisitions may be on the cards.

As revealed last week, John Thornhill, the boss of telesales outfit BT Business Direct and etailer dabs.com, pipped BT Engage IT head honcho Martin Balaam to the top job as the three resellers merge into a single entity.

"We are aiming to put a management team in place within one month," he told El Reg. "The key thing is building the shape of the services team, the structure that will take us forward."

He said bringing together the disparate businesses created better prospects to cross-sell and "expand the total customer base ... build greater share of wallet in everything we do".

The group employs 1,220 staff – with 900 at BT Engage IT, 220 at BT Business Direct and 100 at dabs.com – the firm confirmed.

"Business Direct can handle high volume, medium-value transactions in a lean and mean way but what we haven't brought to its sub-500 seat SMEs or government customers is Engage IT's field team of accredited engineers providing maintenance and a 24-hour operating centre."

Thornhill reckons the to-be-named consolidated firm can get to "halfway [to the £1bn target] under our own steam". He acknowledged that BT may consider acquisitions again, after a four-year hiatus from acquiring resellers.

"As the market moves to the cloud and applications are hosted off-site, there could be specialisms or portfolio coverage we might not have and need to establish. Do we build those skills in-house, take from other parts of the group or look to the market for it?" ®

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