Originally founded in 2004 as an Oracle Consultancy, today Claremont is a leading Oracle Applications Managed Services provider with a team of 45 spread throughout the UK.
We spoke to Mark Vivian, Claremont’s Chief Executive Officer, about his career, the company’s focus on service excellence, and how UNW have delivered as audit partners and as advisers on Claremont’s acquisition by managed services provider DSP-Explorer in May 2022.
After developing an early interest in computing, which saw him build his own machines and create code for games, Mark naturally followed his fascination to study Computer Science at The University of Manchester. Subsequently entering the IT sector, Mark had worked with Oracle software for more than 20 years before he joined Claremont in 2011, originally as Operations Director before becoming CEO 18 months later. “I joined the business at the beginning of 2011 along with a couple of colleagues from my previous firm, Hitachi Consulting” Mark explains. “We joined to help transform the business, creating the managed service practice and changing the way professional services were delivered.”
With an impressive list of long-term clients like National Trust and Sony, Claremont has a portfolio of around 50 customers. As part of their managed services, they provide clients with ‘fix and fail support’. “We also provide proactive support, making sure we are heading off any issues before they rear their heads” explains Mark. “Forging long-term relationships with our customers means that we can collaborate better and help them to maximise their investment in Oracle technology.”
Today, there are three main pillars to Claremont’s service offering: managed services, cloud hosting and consultancy. “We provide services primarily around Oracle E-Business, which is essentially a set of applications that many large businesses use for finance, procurement, HR, Payroll, and other modules too, including lease management model modules, property management, and enterprise asset management.”
“Alongside managed services, we’ve got a cloud hosting offering called Claremont Cloud that we designed with a data centre partner specifically for Oracle technology.”
“The third pillar of our offering is professional services or consultancy. That includes everything from small change work (updating complex systems over time) to businesses wanting to upgrade the software or implement new modules.”
When asked about what has contributed most to Claremont’s success over the last decade, Mark is particularly proud of the company’s customer service focus. “I think we’ve got a very strong delivery excellence ethos. Every month, we have a service review with our customers; whilst we review progress over the last month, crucially we look to the future and we plan going forwards. We ask customers to rate us out of ten on how they feel about the service we’re delivering to them, and those customer satisfaction scores have trended up over time, currently sitting at an average of over 9.5 out of 10 across the whole portfolio.”
As a result of the focus on service excellence, Claremont can boast an incredible achievement. “We’ve been delivering managed services for over a decade now and during that period we’ve never lost a customer to a competitor. A few people have moved away from the Oracle technology, and have therefore stopped taking our services, but it’s never been the case that a customer has moved to a competitive service provider.”
In 2019, with future growth aspirations on the horizon, Claremont set about looking for an audit partner that could support them not just in the short-term, but with a clear view that one day the business would look for funding to realise its ambitions. That’s when UNW was recommended to Mark.
“We were with one of the ‘Big 4’ before and decided to go through a tender process” Mark explains. “UNW was highly recommended to us and so we met with Michael Morris and other team members. It was a full tender process and we spoke with a number of other organisations, but in the end, UNW came out on top for a number of factors.
“We needed an auditor, but we were also looking at tax and corporate finance advice to help us proactively plan for the future” Mark says. “The breadth of the service offer and what UNW could provide us with was a big factor in our decision. We also saw UNW as a great fit for us culturally, sharing our key values of great customer service and delivery excellence. Since that first meeting, they have been responsive, personable, approachable, and very knowledgeable, showing a genuine interest in, and understanding of, our business. We’re absolutely delighted with the service we’ve received.”
As plans to expand beyond the UK and bring in complimentary service lines gathered pace, Claremont began to search for an organisation to help them. “We were independently owned, looking to expand the business and needing more backing and funding. We wanted to find an organisation that would deliver value back to shareholders but also provide real investment into the business and give our employees greater opportunities to spread their wings. We also wanted a good cultural and strategic fit.”
With DSP-Explorer, Claremont found exactly what they were looking for. “We are primarily Oracle applications focused, whereas DSP-Explorer is Oracle technology focused; so, it’s a brilliant fit from the Oracle side of things. They also provide Microsoft services and that’s something we didn’t have. Now we can attract customers looking for service providers to provide both Oracle and Microsoft support. On the Cloud side of things, they work with a number of different infrastructure clouds, so we’ve now got lots of different options we can offer to our customers and DSP-Explorer’s. There’s already a lot of conversations going on about how we can help each other in different accounts.”
When asked about the future, Mark again brings it back to Claremont’s core focus – its clients and its people. “I am particularly excited about the fusion of the Claremont and DSP businesses. We will be continuing as Claremont, because the brand is really strong in the marketplace, but the breadth of our combined group service offering, along with our shared delivery excellence ethos, will enable us to present an even more compelling proposition to prospective customers. I’m convinced that this invigorating new partnership with DSP-Explorer will deliver huge benefits to our customers and our employees.”
I’m convinced that this invigorating new partnership with DSP-Explorer will deliver huge benefits to our customers and our employees.