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November 26, 1997updated 01 Sep 2016 5:50pm

GRESHAM LOOKS TO A NEW FUTURE IN WEB COMMERCE

By CBR Staff Writer

Under an entirely new management, UK middleware and transaction processor Gresham Computing Plc is hoping to exploit its core expertise by focusing its attention on web commerce, and grow the business through acquisition and a strong push into the US. Gresham’s chairman, managing director and sales director all left the company back in the summer (CI No 3,200), to be replaced by Trevor Read as managing director, who has built himself a reputation for turning companies around. Read was behind the management buyout of AST Ltd in 1984 and turned it from a 100,000 pound revenue outfit to 15m pounds in 1993 when it was bought by SHL Systemhouse Inc. He joined Gresham from the former Performance Software Inc, now Cyrano SA, and brought with him Mike Hudgell as director of corporate marketing. Gresham is not exactly in need of a total overhaul – the previous management apparently accomplished a major cost cutting exercise, increased profitability and left behind them a 4m pound cash pile – but what shareholders were not happy with was future revenue growth potential. Under Read’s guidance, the company is turning the attention of all three business divisions, products, professional services and contract personnel, to web-based electronic commerce. Earlier this month, the company made the first of its planned acquisitions, London-based financial services firm CirCa Business Systems Ltd (CI No 3,290), which brought with it the CirCa User Interface product that enables access to Tandem Computer Corp’s proprietary NonStop systems. Gresham is integrating CirCa into its flagship casablanca product, which provides a gateway between legacy systems and the web (CI No 2,925).

Electronic commerce jigsaw

Casablanca supports ICL Plc’s VME and Digital Equipment Corp’s VMS systems, and IBM Corp MVS. The next release will support Tandem’s NonStop Himalaya systems, which open up the entire banking and finance worlds for Gresham, which is pitching itself at these markets and telecommunications and healthcare specifically. Additionally, since Tandem systems are in 90% of the world’s banks, integration of Tandem systems with casablanca will ready Gresham for electronic payments over the web, which is the final piece of the electronic commerce jigsaw. Gresham is also writing a 100% pure Java version of casablanca, which will enable developers to create integrated web applications using casablanca components as JavaBeans. The company has partnered with Sun Microsystems Inc, which is co-operating on the Java development and is also bundling casablanca with its Netra J Java servers. Gresham currently has more than 400 customers in the UK, some 50% in local government and the rest in Times 1,000 companies. It has some customers in Australia, South Africa and the rest of Europe, and some new ones in the Middle East through the CirCa buy. However it is the US which Read has his eye on. He says he has been there before, and is confident he and his team understand how to avoid the pitfalls encountered by so many UK businesses venturing across the Atlantic. He says Gresham has good technology focused on a specific area, namely web to host integration and a solid plan and business logic. Gresham is most likely to start from scratch in the US rather than buy an existing business, but it is looking for further acquisitions elsewhere as part of its overall growth strategy. The company has just closed its fiscal year, and expects to report revenue of around 12m pounds in January, up from 9.3m pounds last year.

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