While the broker market of the last two years has been weathered most successfully by introducers holding fast to long-established business niches, meaningful growth has only been seized by those with the ability to innovate at the same time.
Axis Leasing ticks both boxes. Although the Carmarthenshire intermediary has been underpinned by its focus on sales aid for IT assets, it has been the development of vendor programmes for the government’s Cycle to Work scheme that has really helped the company in 2010.
The scheme, which has seen Axis work with NHS trusts, police authorities, the fire service, Nokia and BSkyB, has boosted business volume to the tune of several hundred thousand pounds a month, thanks to programmes operating through hundreds of cycle shops nationwide.
While some contracts are funded by Axis’ own book, the rest are brokered, with virtually all business proposed to funders being converted.
Yet the cycle venture is new territory for the company founded by GE Capital alumni Deb Chick and Geoff Mattey in the 1980s.
“We have kept a close watch on how both finance markets and technology have developed since then,” said Chick, “and I am proud of the way we have managed to stay ahead of the game in terms of tailoring vendor programmes.”
While Chick heads business development at Axis, working on vendor programmes in the middle ticket IT sector, Mattey manages the company’s national accounts dealing with suppliers such as Toshiba, Panasonic, Ricoh and Konica, as well as directing the commercial finance giant’s Minolta Rentals and Kenco Rentals programmes.
As these job descriptions suggest, Axis is a sales aid broker to its core. Yet it has not approached all sectors of the market.
Chick said: “Over the last 12 years, we have made a conscious decision to steer clear of anything other than ICT [information and communication technologies] or high-tech assets. This has protected us to an extent.”
As a result, many Axis funders “raised their eyebrows” when it presented schemes for bicycles rather than IT equipment.
While Axis will continue to develop its cycling venture, the next step for the company is a return to more familiar ground. Chick and Mattey are now looking to provide IT funding for the rapidly changing schools sector. The brokerage is working with several large IT suppliers to produce a new education package.
Axis appears to be in a good position. The company has grown consistently each year for a decade, with latest financial results showing a 10% increase in turnover and 25% increase in gross profit year-on-year.
Chick and Mattey recognise their success so far has been built on spotting timely opportunities wherever they arise.
Chick said: “We are a company constantly looking to our markets to find the added value that gives our reseller an edge.”