SCOTTISH information technology veteran Tom O’Hara has declared his Kick ICT Group has become the biggest provider of IT solutions to small and medium-sized firms in Scotland following its latest acquisition. And he immediately refused to rule out further deals.

Kick has completed a deal to acquire the bigger Belshill-based Castle Computer Services, one of Scotland’s longest-established IT firms, for an undisclosed sum. It is the latest in a series of acquisitions made by the firm since its launch by Mr O’Hara, Alan Turnbull and David Chazan in 2015, with Glasgow-based Talon Business Solutions, Roxxap of Bonnyrigg and Glenrothes-based Vorezo being snapped up by Kick since.

Asked whether the firm was targeting further deals, Mr O’Hara said: “We have got a bit of track record. We did something in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we do something again in 2019. We just need to keep the momentum going. As you do more, and you get more scale, the more opportunities present themselves, as opposed to having to go hunting for them.”

Kick has grown its turnover from £800,000 when Talon was acquired in 2015 to £2.4m in its most recent accounts, with that number expected to rise to £3.5m. Acquiring Castle hikes the combined turnover of the two firms to more than £12m.

The Castle acquisition results in the retirement of its founder Andrew Munro, who has built the consultancy into a £9 million-turnover business since setting it up in 1982. With Castle now on board, the Kick team now spans more than 100 staff serving around 700 clients. The combined group is targeting growing its client base to 1,000 by 2020.

Mr O’Hara said the deal means Kick is now the biggest IT firm serving SMEs in Scotland.

“It’s pretty good going, even if I say so myself,” he said.

READ MORE: O'Hara's buying spree has Kick to transform IT sector

Around 75 Castle staff are expected to join Kick, which is based in Glasgow’s Finnieston area. There are no immediate plans to close any offices, with the integration process expected to take six months to a year to complete.

And Mr O’Hara emphasised the importance of communicating with employees and clients about what the changes will mean for them.

“It’s one business, so ultimately we’d like everyone to be in the same place, but that’s [down to] planning and dialogue,” he said.

Castle provides a range of Infor and Mircosoft accounting software systems, business intelligence solutions and managed IT services to 500 clients around the UK. Mr O’Hara said Castle has a stronger presence in the public sector, including housing associations, and brings with it a licence to sell IT solutions from Infor, part of the Pegasus group.

No details on any windfall received by Mr Munro further to the deal were disclosed. Mr Munro and his wife Penny held 60 per cent of the shares in Castle, with fellow shareholders Patrick Mctaggart and George Strathie each holding 20%. Mr Strathie has joined Kick while it is expected that Mr McTaggart will pursue other opportunities.

Kick funded the deal with a combination of cash and a flexible debt facility provided by HSBC.

Mr O’Hara said: “The deal has created a significant, independent IT business with the potential to become a major player in the UK IT market. We are focused on creating the best IT services specialising in the SME market, and are keen to accelerate our growth plans now that we have the scale more quickly.”

Mr O’Hara formed Kick after a stellar career on the Scottish IT scene. The accountancy graduate worked in finance for EY before joining Computerland, then headed by former Scottish Government minister Jim Mather. He then set up the ISI Group, which was sold to Penta Capital in 2000, before moving on to acquire the Pegasus business under ISI Systems in 2002. Pegasus was then sold to Technology Services Group, with Mr O’Hara then running that firm in Scotland between 2004 and 2013.