Hard sell for local software as firm aims to ‘do the right thing’

ACCORDING to Glenn Scaife, there are three types of software company.

Those that know how to deliver and want to make it work; those that know how to deliver and want to make it fail and those that simply do not know how to do anything at all.

“We want it to work because we are in it for the long term,” said Mr Scaife. “We want to do the right thing rather than line our own pockets.”

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He is the managing director of Claritas Solutions, which helps medium-sized businesses navigate the complex world of information technology.

The Bramham company is investing to grow and has set its sights on winning more business in Yorkshire and further afield. It plans to open a sales office in Leeds in the coming weeks.

The company turned over £5.38m in the year ending April 2011, up from £4.73m the previous year. This year, the directors expect a 15 per cent rise in revenue.

Customers include electronics retailer Maplin, upmarket hotel chains Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, academic publisher Emerald and the McArthurGlen group of designer outlets.

Claritas hosts Maplin’s website and looks after its infrastructure and security.

For Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, it created a network for the group’s disparate IT systems so that all hotels can communicate with each other. Claritas also hosts their websites.

It has a contract with Nottingham Rehab Services, a website for healthcare professionals to procure living aids to help older people lead independent lives.

Claritas rewrote the website, allowing clinicians to allocate goods and services in real time, cutting out paperwork and providing peace of mind for the end-user.

Philippa Witheat, head of marketing, said the company’s independence gives it strength.

She said: “We partner with companies and sell their products but we are not tied to aggressive targets. If we get into a company, we will sell a solution rather than a product.”

Ms Witheat added: “There’s a perception that software is extremely expensive. The reality is that it does not have to be.”

Ms Scaife founded the company in 1997. He grew up in Middleton in south Leeds and taught himself electronics and how to build networks at the age of 10.

He joined BT and worked as an engineer, first in telecommunications and then in the company’s fledgling computer business.

He left in the early 90s when BT started outsourcing IT to set up his own third-party support firm.

He became a subcontractor to Planet Online, the early internet service provider launched by Yorkshire entrepreneurs Peter Wilkinson and Paul Sykes.

Today the company is based at Bowcliffe Hall and employs around 40 people. It hired three new sales people in October to help develop the business.

Ms Witheat said the new team has “a real hunger for success”.

“They are young and willing to learn. It was a bit of a risk on our part because we have always had really experienced people.

“They have all individually sold already, which in our industry is pretty good. It’s not a commodity item.”

One of the new recruits is Dee Kaur, the business development manager. She said: “We are literally leading from the front. We want to bring more Yorkshire companies into Claritas.”

Ms Kaur added: “The size of the company allows you to be involved in everything. Glenn shares his vision with us, which is great.”

Mr Scaife said that he wants the company to grow and be “sustainable forever”.

He is a backer of the Yorkshire Post Buy Yorkshire campaign, which encourages companies of all sizes to “think local” whenever they need to buy goods and services.

He explained: “If we don’t help ourselves we are not going anywhere. If we don’t help ourselves, who’s going to help us?

“All the other countries seem to have found a way how to get the rest of the world to buy their products so all of our cash is going abroad.”

The 53-year-old said that Britain should develop its own engineers of the future so the next big products can be designed and built on these shores.

Claritas is keen to develop the Yorkshire market and wants to build its profile in the region.

Ms Witheat said: “We have been around since 1997, but we are not sure how many people really do know about us.”

Logo puckers up for IT lovers

Claritas Solutions has developed a new logo featuring a bright red heart painted in lipstick.

Philippa Witheat, head of marketing, expains why: “In short we love IT and our customers love it.

“It’s about how we get the message across. I think it says we are real, we are approachable, warm and totally committed.”

She said that everybody in the company is behind the vision to expand successfully across Yorkshire. She added: “This is where Glenn’s from. He sees a big opportunity.”