Several acquisitions in sight
To achieve this, Econocom needs to grow and expand further in Europe. "We only operate in a small part of Europe for the time being. If we could generate, throughout Western Europe, the same level of revenue our Belgian entity makes, then we’d reach €10bn."
Econocom has not made this an official aim, but there is an increasing demand from its clients to have a greater presence in European countries. To support its growth and its clients’ needs, Econocom will have to add several high-growth ‘satellites’ to its ‘galaxy’. Jean-Louis Bouchard confirms that several projects are being studied, including some in Belgium.
The group is targeting firms that make €20m on average with around a hundred employees. Discussions are also underway to acquire a company in cloud computing. Other acquisitions in the software sector could quickly follow.
Yet there is no question of being on all fronts, says the founder of Econocom, which was called ‘Europe Computer Systèmes’ in its early days. "When you try to do everything at the same time, you’re left with no time to tackle what’s not going well." As always, lessons are being learned from the past. Especially after a pandemic that impacted the group. In March 2020, the company, which leases out equipment and IT services, saw some of its clients – including a big French automotive group whose name will not be revealed – stop paying their leases for several months. That quickly caused panic, especially as the group’s results were not yet what they are today, with an 8% fall in revenue that year. Then, in 2021, late deliveries affected Econocom in a similar way.
"The whole of China is at a standstill. Delivery times are very long for everything today. Whether for IT hardware, wood or the motor for my entrance door in Paris which is broken. You just have to wait."
Could this have a long-term impact? "No, I don’t think so. We can stay ambitious, despite a tough period for everyone. In the fifty years I’ve been in digital technology, you can’t say the sector’s been declining."