IRIS splits as Leuw steps down
The accountancy software wing of IRIS has separated from the rest of the software group to become an independent business unit in a shake-up that also saw the resignation of Martin Leuw as group chief executive.
In a public statement, Martin Leuw said, “After 10 years leading IRIS through a period of exceptional growth, I felt it was time for me to pursue other business interests and entrepreneurial opportunities.” He will continue to be involved with the business as a non-executive director.
Previously an executive in the health software industry, Leuw joined the accountancy software specialist 10 years ago and transformed it into a cross-industry combine. Through a series of acquisitions and eventual merger with Vin Murria’s Computer Software Group in 2009, he built the firm’s turnover up to £120m - making it one of the UK’s fastest growing companies.
But the transformation of the IRIS Group has not been without its growing pains, particularly for long-term accountant customers who may have felt the accountancy wing was being used as a cash cow to fund a diversification drive that put their interests on the back burner. Starting with a botched migration of the PAYEmaster (formerly Freeway) to Microsoft's .NET architecture in 2005-6, Drummohr, PTP and IRIS users over the years have complained regularly on AccountingWEB that product quality dropped as IRIS increased its prices.
While IRIS now leads Sage in terms of market share in the UK accountancy software market, Software Satisfaction Awards surveys since 2005 suggest it has lost its position as the supplier with the most satisfied customers.
The IRIS board took the opportunity of Leuw’s departure to reorganise the group, concluding that it can achieve better customer focus by formally separating the business into two, with IRIS Accountancy Solutions being run independently from IRIS Software Group.
Phill Robinson has been promoted from managing director of IRIS Accountancy Practice Solutions to become CEO of the new company, IRIS Accountancy Solutions. IRIS’s successes in recent years meant the company had to manage a more complex business model. The new structure, “allows us to have greater focus on customer needs”, he told AccountingWEB.
The other new company, IRIS Software Group, contains all the other IRIS units, including IRIS Exchequer (mid-range accounting software) and a collection of payroll and HR interests. IRIS Group chief financial officer Neal Roberts will head this firm while the search takes place for a full-time appointee.
Leuw's successor as chairman is Nick Discombe, an advisor to a collection of private equity-backed businesses who has been a non-executive director at IRIS since 2007.