By Kristy Dorsey

Technology services provider Kick ICT has raised £8.7 million to further its expansion drive as it looks to establish an office presence in the south of England.

Headed by chief executive Tom O’Hara, Glasgow-based Kick was established in 2015 as a vehicle to drive consolidation in the IT market for small and medium-sized businesses. Some of the fresh money from investment group BGF has been used to partially buy out existing shareholders, who include Mr O’Hara, his co-founders Alan Turnbull and David Chazan, and two further minority investors.

The rest will be used to bolster the company’s coffers as it looks to extend its reach across the UK. Kick has completed seven acquisitions since its inception, the latest being a deal in August to take over Turnkey Business Software and Turnkey Infrastructure Solutions.

Kick has consolidated operations at its headquarters in Strathclyde Business Park, where about 105 of its staff are based. A further 30 work from home in locations throughout the UK, including the south of England where the company is building a foothold.

Kick provides a range of IT services focused on financial systems, data analytics, technical and cyber services, and communications solutions. It also provides ongoing support and managed services across its range of offerings.

READ MORE: Kick strikes again with third acquisition this year in Scottish technology sector

“We have some clients of a reasonable size in the south, so the natural move next is to create a physical presence down there,” Mt O’Hara said.

Kick is currently in early discussions with a couple of potential takeover targets, with a view towards completing at least one deal next year.

As part of the fundraising, Geoff Neville has been appointed chairman of Kick. Mr Neville, a member of the BGF talent network, has worked across IT and business services organisations such as Admiral, Sx3 and Fujitsu Services and is currently chairman of several other technology firms including InvenioLSI, another company within the BGF portfolio.

Welcoming the investment, Mr O’Hara said the past year had been a “particularly positive and eventful one” for the business.

“In addition to growth through acquisitions, we have experienced increased demand for services such as ERP, cyber security and network environment support as businesses embrace and plan for the future world of working,” he said.

“Our focus is to continue to build on Kick ICT’s track record and integral to this was ensuring we have the right type of investment and input to underpin the next chapter of our growth journey. As a firm that shares our values for developing client trust and relationships, BGF is the perfect partner to support us with our ambitious vision for Kick ICT.”

READ MORE: Kick snaps up a further Scottish tech firm as expansion rolls on

During the financial year to the end of September 2020, Kick posted a 10 per cent increase in turnover to £14.6m along with a 12% rise in pre-tax profits to £1.7m. The acquisitions of the software and infrastructure divisions of East Kilbride-based Turnkey added 15 people to Kick’s total headcount, and more than £4m to turnover.

Formerly known as Business Growth Fund, BGF was founded in 2011 in the wake of the financial crisis with investment from Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and Standard Chartered. Headquartered in London with 16 offices across the UK and Ireland, its remit is to provide growth capital for small and mid-sized British businesses.

During the past year, BGF has invested more than £33m in 11 Scottish businesses.

“We have been following Kick ICT’s growth trajectory for some time and have been particularly impressed by the reach of its operations, the strong feedback from its customers and partners, and the experience of Tom and the wider management team,” said Richard Pugh, who led the deal on behalf of BGF.

“The IT services market continues to perform strongly and this, combined with our strong experience in the sector, means there is a real opportunity to further grow its capabilities, scale and presence both in Scotland and more widely across the UK.”

Prior to setting up Kick, Mr O’Hara spent 10 years building up the Scottish arm of Technology Services Group (TSG).