Phoenix boss grabs industry vet to run Partner Services biz

Alistair Blaxill in as Bill Simpson hotfoots it in pursuit of 'other opportunities'

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Phoenix IT Group boss Steve Vaughan has tapped up a former colleague Alistair Blaxill to run the Partner Business, the tech services’ firm’s largest and some would say most troubled division.

Blaxill replaces Bill Simpson, who has left the business to “pursue other opportunities”, the London-listed company confirmed, though it refused to comment further on the departure.

Prior to his recent arrival at Phoenix, Blaxill was regional president for the UK, Ireland and Africa at HR, software, services and outsourcing provider Northgate Arinso, and before that was an exec director at Communisis, where Vaughan was CEO.

The task in front of the Phoenix newbie is to beef up profitability, expand the “scope of existing client relationships” and score new contracts, as part of the turnaround plan hatched by the CEO.

“He has particularl skills in the implementation of account management which will be very important in introducing and developing this approach within Phoenix,” said Vaughan in a canned statement.

The Partner Business delivers services to customers on behalf of larger integrator and outsourcers that can’t afford or justify the expense of running a UK network of field engineers.

In the most recent financial year ended March 2014, the Partner unit grew turnover by £1m to £114.4m due to the transfer of some deals from the Managed Services wing. Operating profit dropped by £2m to £7m.

And the order book slumped by £11.5m to £165.3m after Phoenix was booted out of Cisco’s channel; its Gold partner badge ripped from the corporate lapel after it flouted the networking vendor's Ts&Cs.

Phoenix has since become an HP Platinum partner and a Huawei Gold partner.

Vaughan previously told us that the Partner unit needs to deliver contracts based on service level agreements, offering different responses response times rather than keeping engineers on customers’ sites.

He also put Rob Lockwood in charge of customer delivery, now reporting to Blaxill rather than Simpson, to take more accountability for the unit and improve efficiencies.

Prior to Communisis, Blaxill was director of HP’s Technology Services group in the UK and Ireland.

We contacted Simpson for comment but have yet to hear from him at the time of writing. ®


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