Audio-visual retailer is not ‘bailing out’ of UK despite European expansion plans, boss says

Stephen Fenby, managing director of Midwich in Diss. The company has released its interim results for the first half of 2018. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Stephen Fenby, managing director of Midwich in Diss. The company has released its interim results for the first half of 2018. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2016

The boss of one of East Anglia’s most acquisitive companies has reiterated its commitment to the UK following a string of European purchases.

Midwich has announced takeovers of two companies on the continent in the past month – Sounds Direction France (trading as Perfect Sound) and German broadcast and video retailer Bauer und Trummer GmbH (trading as New Media).

It follows its acquisition of Spanish brand Earpro SA in 2017, along with UK-based Sound Technology.

In the first half of 2018 Midwich’s European business accounted for 35% of turnover – up 8% year-on-year – while the share from UK and Ireland business decreased from 66% to 58% over the same period.

But despite plans to continue expanding its European footprint – it now has more than half a dozen offices in Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands and plans to target markets including Italy, Poland and Scandinavia going forward – managing director Stephen Fenby says the company is “not bailing out” of the UK.

“The acquisitions are part of a long-term strategy to strengthen our business. Our business in Europe grew by 62.5% in the first half of the year so it is a big market for us and we think we have a good opportunity for growth by adding in some new technological solutions,” he said.

“But the UK is still an important market and if there are opportunities here we will take them.”

In a trading update for the six months to June 30, Midwich reported a 25% increase in revenue to £264.1m while profit before tax increased by 48% to £11.85m.

The firm, based in Vinces Road, Diss, said investment in “new geographies” and the development of specialist units for broadcast, lighting and audio helped increase its turnover and gross profit margin.

The forward pipeline for acquisitions is said to be “strong”, with Mr Fenby hopeful that two more acquisitions could be made by the end of the year.

The company now employs some 800 staff across the UK, Ireland, Europe and Australasia, including around 270 in its Diss head office.

Mr Fenby said more expansion is planned at its headquarters, but that the building was approaching full capacity.

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