Born out of Midland Mobile Phones, the £2.12 billion Caudwell Group, which includes brands like Phones 4U and distributor 20:20 Logistics, is now up for sale. IT director Iain McGregor believes IT is as best placed as it could be for a deal. “All the businesses have a common IT platform but inevitably, when the company is sold it will mean huge changes for IT,” he says. The IT operation is split into two parts: value add, which includes the infrastructure and interfaces with the business; and non-value add, which includes maintenance and running of systems. McGregor has spent much of the last year consolidating and exploiting investments made in 2003/4. “We are driving key savings and improving the whole landscape,” McGregor says. “The emphasis this year is on continuous improvement in the quality of service we provide.”
Like all Caudwell Group businesses, IT is treated as a profit centre, with its own targets to meet. McGregor charges out software and applications development to the rest of the businesses, and is aiming for a £1m profit by the end of the year, 20-25 per cent of which will come from external customers.
The one centralised IT function supports many businesses, is constantly trying to improve its margins and is looking at ways of generating revenue. “We are working with IBM to look at tools and methods to make us more productive, to help us develop more quality, reusable code and have shared services wherever possible,” McGregor says.