I am writing to let you know that I am privileged to have been appointed to the Rank of Chevalier of the Legion d'honneur.
The Legion d'honneur is the highest French order of merit both military and civil. It was established by Napoleon in 1802 and has been retained by all French governments and regimes. It is one of the most famous awards in the world.
It is awarded for excellent military or civil conduct delivered upon official investigation. Every person nominated is evaluated within his or her field of activity. This must be attained over a minimum of 20 years. There must be a common benefit of having served the good of the nation rather than solely one’s own interests, eg creating jobs, developing education, supporting the underprivileged, and technological innovation.
The Legion d'honneur is essentially awarded to French citizens and occasionally to non-French nationals. It has not been awarded previously to a British born businessman.
We started SCC in France with only two people in 1998. The later acquisition of the Dutch Buhrmann Group in 2001 took SCC into seven European countries including France. The French acquisition comprised of Allium, an ailing long established pioneer of the French personal computer market. There was also an important leasing company (now called Rigby Leasing France), but the service interests had been disposed of or closed down prior to our acquisition.
Allium, now renamed SCC France, was revitalised, and grew both organically and by a series of acquisitions including EBC Informatique which gave coverage in eastern France in Strasbourg and Mulhouse; Ares a major competitor to Allium; and LNA, a public sector orientated company. The French business at this stage was essentially a technology reseller rather than a services organisation and SCC was concerned to introduce relevant service capability to support the sales of technology and developing this capability has always been a constant challenge and importance. In 2005 we acquired TBI Proxis (the former engineering arm of HP) which gave SCC France the basis of a service business, again it was a distressed company.
Flowline, a cloud services business in Lyon, was acquired in 2016, and in 2011 SCC had entered into a joint venture with Recyclea to create a technology recycling plant based in the remote location of Montlucon in the region Auvergne- Rhône-Alpes in central France.
In parallel with the development of SCC, our group also built an IT product distribution business to complement the established businesses in this sector of technology which Rigby Group had established in the UK and some other European territories.
Several major acquisitions in this sector were made and ETC France and its sister company Best’Ware, on behalf of IBM, operated in over 30 French speaking countries (DOMTOM territories) with operations in the South Pacific in places such as Tahiti and New Caledonia, in the Indian Ocean in Mauritius, La Reunion and Madagascar, in Africa in Mauritania, Guadeloupe in the Caribbean; other territories included joint ventures in Morocco and Algeria. These companies went on to considerable success and ultimately were sold in 2013 when Rigby Group disposed of its distribution interests to a US Fortune 500 company.
With complete focus in France on SCC and under a management team led throughout by Didier Lejeune, our CEO in France, and for the last 10 years under the direct oversight and leadership of James Rigby the business has gone on to become the clear market leader in its IT sector in France.
Today, with approximately 3,300 people, some 23 city locations in France including our six-storey headquarters in Nanterre, Paris, presently undergoing major refurbishment, and our distribution and technical centre in Lieusaint, Ile de France, and serving through our principal locations Toulouse, Lyon, Strasbourg, Lille, Bordeaux, Aix-en-Provence, Rouen, Nantes, Orléans, and our two new onshore service centres in Valenciennes and Montlucon. Also, offshore French speaking service operations in Romania and Vietnam where together we serve an important list of clients.
Our business is split 60% with the public sector serving numerous Ministries, central departments and regional and local government facilities, the police, military, justice services and the important several central collective purchasing organisations, we provide IT product and services across the whole of France. Our private sector business is largely focused on CAC 40 major quoted businesses in France and other major second and third tier organisations which are entirely reflective of French business sectors and industries
Our revenues reached €2billion Euros in the fiscal year ended 31 March 2021 with growth in revenue and profitability despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in France and indeed across the world.
The Group has always placed enormous interest and support in its French business and our workforce is made up entirely of French colleagues. Over time there have been lean years and difficult times, strong competition and generally testing economic conditions and frequent political change. All against a constantly changing technological landscape which SCC has successfully navigated. Indeed, the pace of change in the IT field is increasing at an enormous rate with new and exciting opportunities which we must embrace
SCC France has never been in a better position than it is today; it remains an integral part of SCC and its strong sales ethos and ability to deliver and to retain and service our good customers in France is understood and appreciated by our clients, the many international hardware and software vendors which we represent, the company and its senior management.
It is a great privilege to have been able to see the birth of SCC’s business in France through to its present great position and I am truly grateful to all those who’ve helped along the way to make the company what it is today. It is a great honour to be recognised as a Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur and I see this recognition as being for the company and its people, rather than just for myself.
Sir Peter Rigby