Skills academy helps Sheffield-based Azzure IT soar ahead of competition

AN IT firm expects to see its turnover soar after establishing an academy which will help to keep skilled jobs in Yorkshire.

Craig Such, the managing director of Azzure IT

Azzure IT, which is based in Sheffield, sells and deploys Microsoft business software which can boost a company’s productivity.

Microsoft rates Azzure as its leading UK “gold” partner. The company walked away with the fastest growing small business title at the Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 awards 2017, and it expects to keep growing as it increases its market share.

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Azzure IT has launched its own training academy for graduates and school leavers to tackle the growing demand for IT skills.

The Azzure Dynamics Academy is helping young people to establish their IT careers in a range of areas, including development, customer support, consultancy and office-based sales.

Craig Such, the company’s managing director, told The Yorkshire Post: “We’ve invested in not only taking on experienced staff, but setting up our own academy of graduates and apprentices so we can bring through future talent as well.

“Our turnover is growing at about 30 to 35 per cent per annum. This last year, we were just over £4m. The previous year it was £3.1m, the previous year, we were £1.7m. It is a rapid increase in turnover, and this year we target to do about £5.3m.”

Ms Such said the company had a “cold start” in 2011, during the height of the recession that followed the financial crash of late 2008.

“Starting from two people, we’re now up to 47 people and expanding,’’ he said.

“We’re proud to be based in South Yorkshire and we have customers throughout the UK. We’re ideally placed for accessing all parts of the UK, but also overseas clients as well.”

“It is all organic growth,’’ he added. “We’ve found that we could get a better return by focusing on our organic growth, rather than bringing in acquisitions.”

However, Mr Such, who is a director and investor in the firm, said acquisitions were certainly a “possibility”. He said that it had been hard to get external funding in 2011, so the business had to be self-funded.

He added: “Now that we’re being successful we do have interests from quite a few VCs (venture capitalists) and equity companies, but right now the business is self-funding quite well. During the times of the recession and the downturn, that probably helped us, because what we found was that while the economy in certain sectors was struggling, in other sectors a lot of it was just being really cautious. We came across businesses who were looking to invest in new systems to make them more efficient.

“We’re always looking three years ahead in our planning, so our plans are £5.3m (turnover) this year. Next year will be around £6.2m, and the following year, about £7m to £7.1m.

“The key to that growth is forward planning, being agile and adapting to what the markets want, but also making sure you get the right people in.”

Azzure IT was ranked 178th on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) 2016, which reflects its growing international significance.

Last year, the business was named as the fastest growing technology firm in Yorkshire and positioned 29th in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50, which is a ranking of the 50 fastest growing technology firms in the UK. Azzure IT, which is headquartered in Sheffield, has attracted worldwide attention for its growth rate.

It was the second consecutive year that Azzure IT had been listed in both the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA and the Deloitte Technology Fast 50.