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June 7, 1988

MERIDIAN MOVES TO DIVERSIFY WITH MAINTENANCE, DISASTER RECOVERY OPERATIONS

By CBR Staff Writer

The UK-based computer leasing company, Meridian, which likes to describe itself as an autonomous group within parent Inspectorate International AG, has embarked on a formal reorganisation and expansion exercise in a bid to become a pan European computer services group. Essentially, Meridian has created two new divisions to work alongside its existing leasing operation: a Disaster Recovery division, and a separate Computer Maintenance division, based in West Drayton and spearheaded by David Donovan, who was poached for the purpose from leasing rival Dataserv, some two months ago. Donovan’s strategy within an estimated UKP40m to UKP50m budget is twofold: expansion through acquisition in Germany, Italy, Holland and – to a lesser degree with small, private companies – the UK, and the development of maintenance services, both for the existing Meridian leasing group customer base and as a third party maintenance service for companies that are not otherwise Meridian customers. On the latter score, flexibility is, he stressed, essential: in the era of the increasingly reliable machine, customers may feel that an on-site engineer is an uneccessary expense, and should be able to choose from a range of alternative maintenance options. Donovan proposes the payment of a set call-out fee, with additional charges levied only for time and materials, depot repair, with a store of cheap machines such as terminals and PCs available as a back-up, and preventative maintenance for groups such as retailers, where early morning check-ups often pre-empt the development of serious system problems. Rivals on Donovan’s horizon must include the Granada Group, which is in process of adding DPCE Plc to its SMS, Computer Field Maintenance and Mainstay maintenance subsidiaries: although he admits to eyeing DPCE for his own purposes in the past, Donovan pronounces himself delighted by the turn of events, confident that internal management wranglings at the enlarged Granada will now divert the company’s energy in the coming months to produce a veritable bloodbath. Meridian, for all its autonomous claims, was recently embroiled in a blood-shedding exercise of its own, when one member of the Inspectorate board – now departed – took exception to the company’s proposed expansion and diversification plans. Donovan acknowledges that difficulties may lie ahead but believes that the financial clout and stabilising influence of Inspectorate, coupled with Meridian’s indigenous customer base and a great deal of hard work – will win through: maintenance is, he says, a concept in which he really believes.

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