Davenport eyes acquisitions, further Cellnet growth

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Adam Davenport expects to focus on further growth and possible acquisitions for Cellnet when he takes the leadership post at the Australia-owned distributor 1 June.

Adam Davenport expects to focus on further growth and possible acquisitions for Cellnet when he takes the leadership post at the Australia-owned distributor 1 June.

As reported in CRN, Cellnet Group has appointed Kanbay country manager Davenport as managing director following the resignation of founder Stephen Harrison from the role, announced earlier this year.

Davenport, 46, was approached by Cellnet's headhunters -- he has been poached from Kanbay -- but will continue to work at Kanbay until he starts Cellnet duties 1 June.

"I'm pretty excited about it. It's a good role for me," Davenport told CRN. "I came back from Europe out of Getronics and thought [Kanbay] was a great role for me, but I was looking for a business with more scale."

He added that Kanbay had been a great opportunity and learning experience for him but he felt Cellnet was more the sort of role he really wanted longer term.

"And Kanbay is in substantially better shape now than it was 18 months or so ago," Davenport said. "Cellnet has put in some good growth and IT distribution is a pretty tough environment."

Distribution had been consolidating – as the Ingram Micro-Tech Pacific merger made abundantly clear – so Cellnet's success as an Australian-owned distributor with both IT and telecommunications irons in the fire was all the more impressive, Davenport said.

"There's a big space in the middle [between large and small distributors], I think, and the opportunity is for Cellnet to continue its growth – probably organically and perhaps through some targeted acquisitions," he said.

Cellnet would aim to have a balance of both telecommunications and IT. One reason the distributor had been "reasonably successful", he said, was because it had been able to grow the IT side instead of simply relying on its telecommunications business.

Davenport wouldn't be drawn on possible acquisitions, saying it was "probably too early to say", but said he would soon be working to assess Cellnet's assets, financial structure and what opportunities existed in the marketplace.

"[Founders] Steve Harrison and Mel Brookman did a fantastic job growing the company," he said. "That's one thing: this company has a very nice board."

Cellnet's board includes a former managing director of Woolworths, Darryl McDonaugh, a chief of highly successful global travel agency FlightCentre and competitive entrepreneurs such as Harrison and Brookman. The high calibre of the Cellnet's board was part of what tempted him to switch, Davenport said.

Davenport had also worked in the UK as European vice president for service provider Getronics, as chief executive for US office products distributor Blue Star Group in Australia and as corporate service director at Wang Australia.

"I spent four years in Europe before [Kanbay], including London and Paris. It will be nice to be back in Australia," he said.

Davenport's family travelled with him to Europe but he was on the road so much there he hardly saw them, he said.

Cellnet said yesterday that Stephen Harrison has agreed to remain as consultant to Cellnet for 12 months.

Davenport had entered into an executive service agreement with Cellnet for an initial three years. Cellnet would pay him $360,000 a year plus a bonus of "at least 50 percent of that", subject to the achievement of board-agreed key performance indicators, a statement to the ASX said.

"He will also participate in a long term incentive plan to be developed for the Cellnet Group," it said.


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