Croydon-based distributor IFSE’s first ever venture into the £10m+ revenue territory sees it entering the Power Players rankings for the first time too. The firm garnered £10.6m in the 12 months to 31 March 2019, a 13.4% revenue increase from the previous financial year. However, operating profit did drop slightly, down 13% from 2017-18’s circa £800k to the £695k for the latest financial year.
So how has IFSE managed to expand? MD Andrew Fordyce said: “Undergoing significant enhancements and improvements in the last few years, IFSE grown leaps-and-bounds by simplifying our company’s goals and objectives. By putting our team members’ growth and development at the forefront of our business; this has ensured that we are outward looking, and customer focused, cementing our team’s place as a leader in hospitality design and build.”
When it comes to what it takes to lead a top company, he reported: “The most important part of my role is to build a cohesive team where each person understands what our core values and objectives are. Everyone expects the sales team to be customer focused but that has never been enough at IFSE – we believe it is vital that everyone that works for us is outward looking and customer focused.
“There are many strategies that we employ to achieve this customer focus of which the most successful is to devote the first two hours of every Monday morning to a whole company team meeting. We go through every project, allocate design and estimating time, discuss on site works, problem solve, review our marketing plan, health and safety, training, new products and a plethora of other matters so that everyone is involved.”
Fordyce does acknowledge that the industry is in choppy waters this year though, due to the coronavirus. “The imperative challenge is how the industry will cope as we come out of lockdown and trading resumes. There will likely be a slowdown in the industry; our immediate focus will be taking all the measures we can to deliver currently delayed projects, secure new work and manage overhead costs. As like other players in the industry, the effective shut down of our industry for a full quarter will inevitably be reflected in our end-result for our 2020/2021 trading year compared to the previous year.
“At IFSE we are lucky in that we had a very healthy forward order book at the end of our financial year in March and we will be installing these projects over the coming quarter, including designs for the Greater London Authority, Vodafone and a new high street brand.”
Good business continuity planning and IT management have proved to be essential for the distributor in this crisis. According to Fordyce: “Our substantial investment in our IT setup meant that we were able to quickly mobilise home working which has proved to be extremely efficient. All staff were immediately set up to work efficiently from home with access to our central servers. Using ‘Teams’ has proved to be highly effective for internal and external client communications and will undoubtedly feature much more in our future operations even when normal working conditions resume.
“The team at IFSE look forward to adapting to the challenges that this year will bring and showcasing our upcoming design projects.”
IFSE MD Andrew Fordyce urged: “When the industry experience severe economic stress without warning we all need to take a reasonable and workable view and discuss ways forward on payment plans with both our customers and suppliers. This collaborative approach has worked very well for us and has had the added benefit of strengthening some of our relationships with clients with whom we would like to continue working once business resumes.”