One hundred buys: An integral part of Bechtle’s growth strategy.

When Bechtle acquired Linz-based dataformers GmbH in September 2020, it was the one hundredth time the IT company would incorporate another. A nice, round number that underscores just how crucial a role acquisitions play in Bechtle’s success.

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Bechtle has been one of Europe’s most successful IT service providers for no less than 37 years. Besides a wealth of IT expertise and robust partnerships, it is the company’s very visible footprint in the market that yields organic growth, which between 2009 and 2019 clocked in at an annual average of 13.8%. But to achieve its increasingly ambitious targets, Bechtle spends on acquisitive growth as well, going shopping for the first time in 1993, and 99 more times since, which translates to a lot of onboarded know-how and market share. Since 2015, Dr Karl-Heinz Kramer has been overseeing the Mergers & Acquisitions division, and up until now has added 23 companies to the Bechtle flock. On average, Bechtle acquires four businesses every year. Each and every incorporation is a highly individual process that takes a lot of care and guidance. In 2019 Mr Kramer’s team evaluated some 250 companies, and took nine on board. “The fact that we didn’t acquire more in the end is also due to the complexity of integrating each purchase,” he says.

The route to a successful takeover.

Bechtle’s past growth through acquisitions primarily saw small to mid-sized companies added under its IT System House & Managed Services umbrella. In IT E-commerce, on the other hand, Bechtle is almost exclusively expanding through all new European sales units that open up new markets. Larger enterprises, too, are on the watch list and often the focus of evaluations. In 2018, Bechtle brought in Inmac Wstore in France as an addition to its IT E-commerce segment. With more than 400 employees and 420 million euros in revenues, this was the biggest purchase in the history of the company and a major milestone in the French market.

“For us, acquiring companies is a strategic means to achieving customer, portfolio or geography-oriented growth. We’re gaining market share, expanding our product or service offering, e.g. for application solutions, and also tapping into new customer segments. Sometimes companies will come to us, sometimes we’ll approach them when we’re interested. And then we’re also on the radar of investment banks and M&A consultants. To be able to integrate a company in the first place, it’s essential that its management and people are a fit for the Bechtle culture,” says Dr Kramer about the most important aspects he considers before each acquisition. Once a company has been bought, it doesn’t just get a standard Bechtle makeover. One thing that’s essential to Bechtle’s philosophy is keeping the existing management team on board and at the helm, and allow both leadership and employees the same freedoms they are used to.

Dr Karl-Heinz Kramer

Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, Bechtle AG

Bechtle has been one of Europe’s most successful IT service providers for no less than 37 years. Besides a wealth of IT expertise and robust partnerships, it is the company’s very visible footprint in the market that yields organic growth, which between 2009 and 2019 clocked in at an annual average of 13.8%. But to achieve its increasingly ambitious targets, Bechtle spends on acquisitive growth as well, going shopping for the first time in 1993, and 99 more times since, which translates to a lot of onboarded know-how and market share. Since 2015, Dr Karl-Heinz Kramer has been overseeing the Mergers & Acquisitions division, and up until now has added 23 companies to the Bechtle flock. On average, Bechtle acquires four businesses every year. Each and every incorporation is a highly individual process that takes a lot of care and guidance. In 2019 Mr Kramer’s team evaluated some 250 companies, and took nine on board. “The fact that we didn’t acquire more in the end is also due to the complexity of integrating each purchase,” he says.

The route to a successful takeover.

Bechtle’s past growth through acquisitions primarily saw small to mid-sized companies added under its IT System House & Managed Services umbrella. In IT E-commerce, on the other hand, Bechtle is almost exclusively expanding through all new European sales units that open up new markets. Larger enterprises, too, are on the watch list and often the focus of evaluations. In 2018, Bechtle brought in Inmac Wstore in France as an addition to its IT E-commerce segment. With more than 400 employees and 420 million euros in revenues, this was the biggest purchase in the history of the company and a major milestone in the French market.

“For us, acquiring companies is a strategic means to achieving customer, portfolio or geography-oriented growth. We’re gaining market share, expanding our product or service offering, e.g. for application solutions, and also tapping into new customer segments. Sometimes companies will come to us, sometimes we’ll approach them when we’re interested. And then we’re also on the radar of investment banks and M&A consultants. To be able to integrate a company in the first place, it’s essential that its management and people are a fit for the Bechtle culture,” says Dr Kramer about the most important aspects he considers before each acquisition. Once a company has been bought, it doesn’t just get a standard Bechtle makeover. One thing that’s essential to Bechtle’s philosophy is keeping the existing management team on board and at the helm, and allow both leadership and employees the same freedoms they are used to.

A consolidating market.

Besides a bespoke approach that is tailored to each company’s individual situation, there are a number of reasons for companies looking to fuse with a bigger organisation to consider Bechtle to be that organisation.  Dr Karl-Heinz Kramer: “Bechtle is a very robust enterprise that is in a fantastic position going forward. In addition to continuity and stability, we also offer a great deal of creative entrepreneurial freedom, a strong backbone of centralised units, and a community of specialists and managers across the group through our principle of connected dispersion. Just how deep processes at Bechtle integrate with each other becomes particularly visible every time we add a new company. The system house market—in particular in German-speaking countries—has been consolidating dramatically for several years, and Bechtle is playing an active role on this stage. Many of the organisations that are up for purchase are looking to secure succession. At the same time, however, companies are increasingly struggling to offer their customers the portfolio they need end to end. “With the ongoing consolidation within the industry, and given the Bechtle Group’s still very robust assets and financial situation, there will be more opportunities for us in the future to bolster our competitive position through acquisitions,” says Dr Karl-Heinz Kramer.

Contact person.

Dr Karl-Heinz Kramer
Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, Bechtle AG
karl-heinz.kramer@bechtle.com

 

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Published on Mar 2, 2021.