MODUS is an integrated project service company and technology provider for subsea and seabed intervention based in the North-East of England. It operates a range of unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) systems, used in surveying, marine trenching, construction support, drilling, and inspection and maintenance services. Since establishing the business in 2008, Jake Tompkins (MD) had acquired a number of lucrative contracts in renewable energy, oil and gas, telecommunications and defence industries. Following the opportunities emerging in North Sea offshore industries in the wake of the financial crisis, the business had grown to over £8million in revenues with a headcount of 52 people.
In 2014-15, the business faced major growth challenges on a number of fronts, which stemmed from: i) the firm’s decision to avoid speculative vessel charter due to oversupply in the North Sea ii) delivery delays on a key build project, and iii) the early curtailment of a trenching contract costing £1.4m in revenue. Reporting a fall in operating profit from £1.2m to a loss of £1.53m, Jake and his team were facing a number of difficult questions: How could the business diversify its customer base and market scope to avoid sector dependence on oil and gas, as well as reduce its geographical focus on the North Sea? Where could they identify opportunities for new market-entry? Was there potential for strategic partnerships to offset their scale disadvantages?