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Inspiring entrepreneur consolidates companies.

Byline: Sion Barry Business Editor sion.barry@walesonline.co.uk

TECHNOLOGY entrepreneur Simon Powell has brought his portfolio of growing tech and digital firms under the umbrella of a new group.

InspireTec is made up of travel technology software firm Comtec, e-commerce venture Eysys, financial and management systems specialist Clarius Finance and creative agency Sequence - which was liquidated last month, with Mr Powell having acquired the goodwill from the administrator for PS75,000.

He said that Sequence, with its website-building capacity, was a natural fit for the new group and in particular its travel industry booking system software company Comtec.

Comtec's software is used by around 100 travel industry clients and supports some PS2.5bn worth of holiday transactions each year.

Along with an injection of PS300,000 in working capital, the Sequence deal has saved 28 jobs. All staff have relocated to InspireTec's headquarters at Vision Court in the Pentwyn area of Cardiff, from its former base at the Gloworks creative industries hub in Cardiff Bay.

And chief executive of InspireTec Mr Powell said it was looking to recruit more staff for the Sequence business, in which he has a 51% stake.

He said he hoped that the financial strength and commercial track record of the InspireTec group of businesses would ensure Sequence was not "ruled out because of prior financial history" in bidding for future Welsh Government contracts.

The liquidated business was on the Welsh Government's creative industry framework and had a contract with Visit Wales.

Mr Powell said: "We see Sequence as a great creative asset and, working with other businesses in the InspireTec group, we are excited at its prospects going forward." The new group has a turnover of PS6.5m, which Mr Powell said is forecast to rise to PS9m next year.

The Sequence team includes its original founder Richard Baker.

And in another boost to InspireTec, Mayfair-based real estate and private equity firm Westminster Growth Capital has invested in the business.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but sees it taking a 10% equity stake in what is its first investment in a company based in Wales. And it has also been confirmed that Finance Wales, which supported Mr Powell's acquisition of Comtec - which he initially founded before selling to private equity firm RJD Partners in 2008 for PS27m - has reduced its 45% equity stake to a minimal interest in a partial exit deal.

Mr Powell, who with Finance Wales' backing bought back the business for PS1 in 2014 - as well as taking on several million pounds in debt - said: "The funding from Finance Wales allowed us [Comtec] to prosper and this [partial] exit gives them a return on investment.

"They stepped in at very short notice to allow us to take back control of Comtec and its subsequent success is a perfect of example of how Finance Wales is helping to drive economic growth."

Deputy portfolio manager Gareth Price, said: "Simon is an experienced investor with an excellent track record.

"We're delighted to have been able to support him and Comtec over the last two years through to the creation of the InspireTec group.

"It is an exciting time for the company with its new wide range of services and we wish the InspireTec team every success for the future."

Mr Powell said: "As an investor of some 20 years' experience, I have been involved in the creation, support and expansion of a wide range of commercial ventures, and in many ways the launch of InspireTec could be seen as the culmination of all those experiences.

"As a single entity, InspireTec has been formed to provide existing and future clients with a level of expertise from a single source or a complete one-stop solution.

"The group will comprise of over 100 highly skilled professionals in their field.

"As an entrepreneur, there is nothing more gratifying than supporting any business in achieving its full potential, and in simplifying our own processes we will be able to support more than ever in taking full advantage of everything our portfolio now has to offer.

"With our head office in Wales, we are committed to helping the Welsh economy grow and provide employment to a significant number of skilled IT and software specialists, as well as train graduates from Welsh universities."

Bradley White a director of Westminster Growth Capital, said: "Westminster is delighted to be investing in InspireTec, a business which we believe has significant potential in a key market sector and with the indepth resources already in Wales.

Chief finance officer of Clarius Matt Wakerley has become chief financial officer of InspireTec.

He said: "It's an extremely exciting time for all of us involved in the launch of InspireTec, and we can't wait to see the benefit to businesses both in Wales and further afield that are set to follow."

InspireWales, the investment fund backed by 20 leading entrepreneurs in Wales, including founder of Gocompare Hayley Parsons and Mr Powell, is also based at Vision Court. And it has made its first investment, into Cardiff-based funeral pricecomparison firm About the Funeral.

CAPTION(S):

Simon Powell, left, and Matt Wakerley of InspireTec which has a turnover of PS6.5m, expected to rise to PS9m next year
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 16, 2016
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