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GSH secures funds for continued growth

08 April 2010

Energy offering is seen as a growth opportunity for GSH says Paul Cottam, GSH’s new MD UK and Ireland

While the dust settled on the various management changes at GSH in recent months, the organisation secured an £8m finance package from Yorkshire Bank’s Corporate & Structured Finance team. According to MD Paul Cottam, MD UK and Ireland, the company is unlikely to be on the acquisition trail but it will use the funds to support and grow its existing business. “Our focus is on our engineering heritage. Our energy management business now contributes to 20 percent of revenues. This is a big opportunity for the organisation. Our energy offering is seen as a growth point for GSH.”
Cottam  who recently  took over as MD UK and Ireland,  will focus on achieving long-term sustainable growth and driving business development. His appointment completed the company’s new leadership structure following its delisting from AIM last year. Cottam has previously worked for GSH Group having joined the company in 1992 as a management trainee and later became a board member as Regional Managing Director and Commercial Director. He rejoined from G4S where he was MD of an FM business within the group.
Cottam explained that GSH was listed on AIM originally to enable the successful management team to share in the equity of the company, and to provide cash for acquisitions within Europe and the UK.  After four years on AIM, the majority shareholder Ian Scarr-Hall, grandson of the original founder, decided to delist the business in 2009 in order to provide a stable environment. His son, Duncan Scarr Hall, is GSH’s non-executive chairman.
"The company is family owned but not family run,"”explained Cottam. “The group management board decides how the profits should be invested and how to return a profit to the business.”
The GSH group has a turnover of £239m and employs around 1,900 people, primarily in the UK and Eire but also on the European mainland and the US. Some 75 percent of revenues are generated in the UK. 
The group is structed on geographical spheres – the UK, mainland Europe which is primarily Holland and Belgium, and the USA. About 350 GSH employees work in mainland Europe, the majority in Holland, but it also has clients in Belgium, Denmark, Luxemburg and Germany (and partnerships in other European countries).  Operating in the telecoms (data centres), automotive, airports, manufacturing and technology sectors, GSH’s key European clients include Global Switch, Schiphol Airport, Heineken, IKEA, General Motors and Coca Cola. Its blue chip customers in the UK includes National Australia Bank, Vodafone, Ericsson and the Department for Work & Pensions.
Asked about operating in the difficult trading conditions in the UK, Cottam agreed that there are concerns about the economy. “Tough decisions have to be made. In this uncertainty all we can do is position ourselves to take advantage of a return to growth when it comes. We can help clients to reduce costs as we know their assets very well.”
Investement in technology in recent years at GSH finds the company at the forefront of technology that links the customer and the engineers servicing their assets. Key to its technological strengths are the Optima bespoke reporting system and the Smart Box that enables GSH’s clients to manage their energy use and revenue. He reported that Santander has installed the SmartBox in its branch network as part of its rebranding programme to help it contain and reduce its energy costs. The investment has paid back within two years.
Cottam reported that GSH’s energy management solution, energyplus, has to date saved its customers £9.6m in energy costs. “As Energy has risen up the agenda there is more challenge in the marketplace, but we are well positioned with energyplus, and with our qualified engineers, bureau services and management skills.  We have a great engineering understanding of our clients assets and we can make informed decisions based on their real data.”

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