Sir George Young MP for North West Hampshire today formally opened the new suite of offices for Cobalt Telephone Technologies at the Intec Business Park in Basingstoke. The new offices, which more than double the existing floor space, are required to cope with strong national and international demand for Cobalt’s hosted services.
Started in a rented Portakabin in 1997, Cobalt has been a classic entrepreneurial success story for the two founders Peter Tomlin of Overton and Harry Clarke of Tangley. The company which now numbers Thomas Cook, Manchester United and eight London boroughs as clients, has grown entirely organically through retained profits.
“Everything that the company has achieved has been as a result of the hard work of our
colleagues” said Harry Clarke, Commercial Director “Therefore we see that providing an
excellent working environment for our existing and future employees is a particular priority.
Simple things like, good air conditioning, provision of the latest TFT screens, and allowing
everyone to be close to a source of natural light make an important difference”
The new offices have been taken on from Legal & General under an eight year agreement
reached through Richard Thomas, of Basingstoke based, Baker, Davidson Thomas. Under
the agreement Cobalt has comprehensively refitted the offices, installing new lighting, high
quality sheet carpeting, full flood cabling, and even a dishwasher to deal with the dirty tea
cups at the end of the day.
Cutting the ribbon, Sir George said he was delighted to open the new offices for his constituent, Harry Clarke who lives in Tangley. "This is an astonishing success story of a company that has developed a niche market and grown consistently over the past ten years to a seven-figure a year turnover. I was interested to hear of the work they are doing for the police, which will save time for the police officer on the beat."
Sir George was shown round the offices by the Technical Director, Joanna Miller.
Cobalt Telephone Technologies Ltd is a software development house specialising in creating
self-service telephone environments in which callers can undertake transactions.
For example, almost all parking tickets are now paid within just such an automated
environment, rather than by talking directly to a council employee.
Often these environments can been annoying and clunky. This is either because of poor
design and scripting or inappropriate use of technology. Cobalt’s approach is different:
it designs its interfaces with the user in mind (not a technologist’s approach);
it uses the finest, most customer friendly technologies; and
it uses professional voice-over artists for all recordings.
The result is the creation of environments that are genuinely helpful in providing service and
information to users, whilst allowing the companies that deploy them to save money on call
Cobalt Telephone Technologies was formed in September 1997 by Peter Tomlin and Harry
Clarke who met at the AA in Basingstoke.
The company began life in a Portakabin. More than just spacious and well-lit, the choice
was made for its low fixed costs and the fact that it could be reloaded onto a lorry at a
week’s notice if things failed. In the years that have followed since, Cobalt has grown in
strength and confidence, purely on the financial basis of retained profits and now has a
turnover comfortably in excess of £1M.
In June 1999 Cobalt took a small studio within the Intec business park in Basingstoke. It has
expanded several times since, but remains at that same Wade Road address.
Cobalt has a strategy of multi-niching and has a presence in a number of different core
markets. These include the airline industry, the parking industry, the UK police market
sports ticketing and general payment processing.
Cobalt’s client list includes: Manchester United, Tesco, Thomas Cook Airlines, The National
Midwifery Council, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, MyTravel,
Thomas Cook, Excel Airways, eight London Boroughs, Edinburgh City Council, West
Midlands Police, Sussex Police, NCP and APCOA and a further twenty five other local
Cobalt was involved in the sale of tickets or both the 2004 and 2005 FA cup finals and has
processed over £100m of payments on behalf of its clients. Cobalt employs 11 individuals
most of whom live locally in Basingstoke or Andover.