Cellhire deal with Russia giant extends firm’s global influence

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CELLHIRE, the York-based mobile solutions company, has added another major network to extend its global reach, signing a crucial partnership with Russian telecoms giant MegaFon.

The announcement follows on from the opening of Cellhire’s office in Russia last year.

MegaFon is a major player in Russia, where it has 77m subscribers, and the Cellhire Russia collaboration offers corporate and consumer telecoms solutions, including local support, so mobile phone customers can benefit from cheaper calls while abroad.

Cellhire currently has 115 employees worldwide, in the US, France, Germany and Japan and is based in York, a city which is developing a reputation for technological excellence and innovation, being home to a science park.

It specialises in short-term communications solutions for major sporting events.

Bogdanova Nadejda, senior development manager of small and medium business at the Stolichny branch of MegaFon, said the company is delighted to be partnering with Cellhire and will work with them in the run-up to a number of major sporting events in Russia this year and next year and beyond.

The Russian partnership enables Cellhire to offer local communications to sports teams and media groups as they prepare for high profile events such as the World Athletics Championships and the G20 Summit this year and the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

Tim Williams, the CEO, chairman and founder of Cellhire, describes the record year enjoyed by the company in 2012 as a result of the London Olympics, when they had 22,000 customers, including media companies and the Canadian and US teams, collaborating with O2.

Consequently, after the highly successful summer of 2012, they will announce turnover of around £22m at the end of the financial year.

Mr Williams said: “We are also in talks currently with a Brazilian operator and we are looking at developing our offer to emerging markets. It’s a good fit for us to support global sporting events, such as the Winter Olympics in Russia, they also have the World Cup and in between, World Athletics.”

Brazil will also be hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 in Rio. Williams said the main focus is working during sporting events with large organisations, such as the media company NBC, who send large numbers of staff to international events.

Mr Williams believes the combination of a high quality service and competitive prices makes Cellhire’s product particularly appealing.

He said: “We understand the needs of large multinational companies who have to travel frequently to these events. And we always make sure we have people locally who can provide support to customers.”

With a degree in law, Mr Williams formed Cellhire in 1987 while also starting a budget car franchise when he moved to Yorkshire. Soon he concentrated his efforts on the fledgling Cellhire.

“What we are doing is providing a SIM card that is local to that country for that network which allows international customers to use locally, thereby reducing the international costs. It is a cost-saver for a large organisation,” he explained.

NBC had almost 3,000 people on the ground during the Olympics and if they had been using international mobiles to make and receive calls, the cost would have been enormous.

“We are in a very strong position to capitalise on a very successful London Olympics,” Mr Williams said.

The company plans to expand globally in the near future and is focussing its efforts on Russia and Brazil.

“We are dealing with Brazilian companies and getting very close to agreeing some commercial terms with them,” he add- ed.

It is not possible to quantity this future expansion in terms of head count, however.