Scotland is missing out on the dynamic growth sector of e-commerce due to the attractions of the honeypot economy of London, leading Glasgow business LiGo has said.
The seller of high-end telephony devices to consumers and businesses, founded by Glasgow Caledonian University graduate Sam Amdjadi 11 years ago, won last year's Glasgow Business Award for 11-50 employee companies.
It continues to grow rapidly on the back of European expansion, and is committed to its Scottish roots, but Mr Amdjadi admits: "If I was starting LiGo now I would probably think twice about starting it in Glasgow."
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He explains: "From university any of my friends who had talent or interest in the sector have all moved down south, and there is a lack of companies setting up here. We pay well but the kind of people I need I am not going to be able to pay them mega-money to move up here - all my suppliers are headquartered down south, and you can't blame people if we can't match the salaries that are offered there."
Mr Amdjadi is trying to spread the word that Scotland needs an e-commerce sector. "It is a very big growth area of the economy. In any meetings I have with the Chamber or whoever, I always offer help, but there seems to be a reluctance to move away from what people know."
London and the south-east are sucking up all the talent and opportunity in the sector, Mr Amdjadi says. "It is full of companies throwing money at e-commerce, they find it easy to find staff and develop...in Scotland we have struggled a bit to find an e-commerce person who has understanding of online marketing, they are very few and far between."
He goes on: "I could have moved there six or seven years ago but I was settled here with my family and apart from that I wanted to make it work here. We were maybe a bit naive and we didn't shout out enough about ourselves until recently. We have tried to raise our profile to show the kind of jobs we have to offer, and we will hopefully keep some of the talented people within Scotland."
LiGo has launched new websites in France and Germany, using its strong relationships with suppliers such as Siemens and Panasonic to take on the competition. "We are trying to take market share," Mr Amdjadi says. "It is quite challenging for a Glasgow-based company trying to sell into Germany and France telephony products consumers can get in those countries." But success has driven turnover up from £10 million last year to an expected £15m this year while employment is also up 50 per cent to 30.
"We are now looking at Italy and other markets, " Mr Amdjadi says. "We have relationships with the big brands in our sector and the first thing we try to do is have exclusivity on key products customers want...then take them to other countries. We have also developed some products under our own brand."
LiGo last year attracted a £180,000 regional selective assistance grant and backing from the SE high growth programme, but its founder says that has only been partially drawn down.
"We started the business from day one with no money, everything has been reinvested and we have got it to this stage with our own funds."