Despite a tough economic climate, many small to medium businesses in the region are expanding.
- Business owners relocating to enjoy Southern Cape lifestyle
- George Chamber reports improvement in businesses confidence
- SOX experiences record trading figures in its 18-year history
(George) – Despite a tough national economic climate, many small to medium businesses in the Southern Cape are experiencing robust growth, with entrepreneurs relocating from other major centres in pursuit of a better lifestyle.
This is according to leading Eastern Cape business solutions company, Smart Office Connexion (SOX) – formerly known as Canon EC – which has reported record trading figures for 2016.
The company, which has 160 staff in the Eastern and Southern Cape and a nationwide staff complement of 1 560, has outstripped previous growth figures in its 18-year history as a business-to-business supplier of office machines such as printers, copiers and PABXs as well as software and technical support services.
In reaction to the growth and the expansion of its clients – small to medium businesses from George to East London – SOX has invested R9 million in expanding its fleet of 49 vehicles, with 34 new service vehicles for its growing technical teams.
According to SOX executive Alan Wilson, the business has reported 20% growth in sales and a 15% increase in service revenue this year alone. Earlier this year the George office was awarded the 2016 PMR.africa Diamond Arrow award for service excellence, while the PE office earned a Golden Arrow at the regional awards.
“Despite a fairly tumultuous year for the Rand, our business is better than ever,” said Wilson. “The very nature of our offering is to provide turnkey office solutions, and the fact that it is doing well is certainly indicative that other businesses are starting up or expanding too. It is also a trend which our sales teams have picked up on.”
SOX general sales manager for the South-Western Districts region, Marcel de Ridder, said an upswing of new business over the past year included a mix of start-ups and companies in the region expanding operations.
“People underestimate the size of the market in the Southern Cape,” he said, adding that he had noticed that many business owners were relocating from bigger centres such as Gauteng to enjoy the lifestyle benefits offered by towns like George and Knysna.
“With the new technologies and connected office equipment available these days, businesses can be effectively run from anywhere,” he said.
George Business Chamber chairman Dr Willie Cilliers said there had been a definite improvement in business confidence in the region.
“Businesses that show growth have made deliberate adjustments to their business models, which contributed to the growth,” said Cilliers.
Established as Canon EC in Port Elizabeth in 1998, the business expanded its regional offices to East London in 2000. Three years later, it opened its South-Western Districts branch in George and Knysna. Today, it forms part of a national network of 45 SOX service centres, offering a full service that includes the sale and rental of office machines, consumables, data and CCTV security.
“Our rebranding and restructuring process has also allowed us to expand our business beyond the familiar Canon connection to include other international brands such as HP and Samsung,” said Wilson.