Retail systems supplier Arciris has worked hard over the years to establish itself as ‘the dealers’ friend’. Which is why, in the wake of news of a management buyout, it is keen to reassure customers that it intends to stay that way.
Billy Tank, sales & marketing director, says: “The company is continuing to grow, both organically and through acquisition, and we will now have our own pot of money to concentrate on what we do.
“We’re here for the long haul and we want to enhance our offering to the independent retailer and provide a one-stop-shop – it doesn’t end at epos and back office systems, there’s much more we can do.”
Arciris has had what you might call a busy history. About 18 months ago it was bought by Torex plc, and now, following a management buyout, it is owned by Torex Retail plc. The deal follows Torex’s decision to sell off its retail business, which is made up of Convenience & Petroleum, High Street, and Germany-based Logware.
The change in ownership was triggered in December last year when Torex became part of healthcare information systems provider iSOFT. The split will see Torex Health forming a separate company. “Health will be able to concentrate on health, and retail will now be able to concentrate on retail,” explains Tank.
The MBO was led by Rob Loosemore, a former director of Torex. He has become chief executive and acting chairman of Torex Retail and intends to float the company on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange as a £60m company.
Arciris Holdings is made up of five divisions – Arciris Ltd, supplying epos and back office systems to the UK and Ireland; Retail Systems Support Ltd (RSSL), providing third-party products such as DOMS pump control, Dione chip and pin technology, Sage accounting, ICL Edacom upgrades, Sarian router equipment, supplier interfaces, and support services; Retail Consultancy Services (RCS), for the dealer market; Micrelec NV, offering systems in Continental Europe; and Mercury Petroleum Systems, the wetstock management company Arciris acquired last year.
Mercury’s service is used in all Sainsbury’s forecourts and more than 300 independent sites. The company is also working with Somerfield to service its first pilot site converted from a Margram site in Milton Keynes.
The past couple of years have seen Arciris invest heavily in infrastructure. It now employs 88 staff, supplies more than 2,000 forecourts – one in three of which is dealer operated – and has earned approval of its systems from all the oil majors – Esso being the latest.
While the majority of Arciris’ deals are through forecourts, the balance between petrol and convenience is shifting. Last year c-stores made up 25 per cent of its business; this year it’s expected to be 40 per cent.
Arciris is not content to stand still – the company has clear strategic objectives for the future. “We want to build on our strong position in petrol, establish a strong position in convenience, exploit our investment in support services, develop a position in two new markets, and become a pan-European player,” says Tank.
To help formulate its strategy, Arciris last year held user meetings around the country. “We wanted to tell dealers about our newest software and get feedback from them on what the problems are and where we should be taking the products,” says Tank. “The common theme from these meetings was they needed more support.”
It’s this feedback that has sparked a move into new markets. But while Arciris is remaining tight-lipped until launch, Forecourt Trader can reveal that the company is moving into the forecourt maintenance arena. So watch this space.