National Computing Centre

National Computing Centre
The National Computing Centre
Former type Limited by guarantee
Industry IT
Genre Not-for-profit
Fate Liquidated
Successor Redholt Ltd
Founded 1966
Founder(s) UK Government
Defunct 2010


Key people Sir Anthony Cleaver, Sir Robert Cockburn, David Fairbairn OBE, Philip Virgo, Chris Pearse, John Perkins, Micheal Gough
Products Filetab
Services Information, advice, education, publishing, escrow & membership services
Owner(s) Mutual
Employees 500 at peak
Subsidiaries NCC Blackwell
The National Computing Centre Limited
Type Limited Company
Industry IT
Fate Trading
Predecessor Redholt Ltd
Founded 2010


Services Information, advice, education, publishing, membership services, Consultancy, Standards
Total equity £12,000
Owner(s) T Ring, S Fox, K Vooght, S Markwell, S Sidhu, P Morris
Website NCC

The National Computing Centre (NCC) was an independent not-for-profit membership and research organisation that went in to administartion before being liquidated in 2010. The name is now used as the trading name of a new company that changed its name from Redholt Limited to the National Computing Centre Limited (NCC Ltd) when its acquired the assets of NCC through a pre-pack administration arrangement. The new company formed in 2010 maintains some of the ideals and aims of the original company.

Formation and Early Years

The National Computing Centre was founded on 10 June 1966 by the Labour UK Government, as an autonomous not-for-profit organisation, in order to encourage the growth of computer usage in the UK and ensure that the necessary education and training was made available. NCC was one of the visible outcomes from Harold Wilson's "White Heat of Technology" speech and the formation of a Ministry of Technology, the others being the computer company ICL and chip maker INMOS (both now defunct).

Initially, most income came directly from government grants, but with the growth of NCC's commercial operations[1] this ceased in 1989. During the 1970s and 1980s NCC had a joint venture with Blackwell Publishing (NCC Blackwell) which was a significant publisher of academic computing books.

Between 1989 and 1996 NCC operated with 5 main divisions - Education, Consulting, Escrow, Membership Services and System Engineering deriving income from membership fees and its commercial activities.

NCC Education

In 1996 the National Computing Centre sold its overseas education business[2] to stave off a finanincial crisis that occurred when the company breached it's borrowing limits.

MBO, NCC Services Ltd and NCC Group plc

In 1999 its sold its commercial divisions (turnover of less than £10m) which provided Escrow, Consultancy, System Engineering services to its existing management team supported by ECI ventures for £5m. This new company was named NCC Services Limited and later became NCC Group Limited of which the National Computing Centre held a 20% share. John Perkins became the new Managing Director of National Computing Centre, which remained a not for profit membership organisation.

The NCC Group management team of Managing Director Chris Pearse and directors John Morris, Peter Bird and Chris Sadler was strengthened in March 2000 by the appointment of Rob Cotton as Finance Director and who also took over control of the Escrow division, with Morris leaving at that time. Following a substantial fall off of revenues as Y2K came and passed the Group began to make monthly losses before the benefits of the changes to the Escrow business were felt and the Group returned to profitability.

With Escrow now the cornerstone of the Group, Rob Cotton led a secondary management buy-out in 2003 valuing NCC Group at £30m and supported by Barclays Private Equity. [3]. At this point the National Computing Centre sold its shares in NCC Group as did Pearse, Bird and Sadler who left the business. The NCC Group floated on the AIM stock market in 2004 for £55m raising nearly £40m of new money. Since then through carefully targeted, complimentary acquistions and effective management, the Group, by now fully a listed company on the London Stock Exchange since 2007, has grown to a market capitalisation of nearly £250m. The NCC Group now only provides global Escrow and Security services to its many customers.

The Failure of National Computing Centre

With the substantial proceeds from the sale of NCC Group Limited and also from the sale of its iconic Manchester Oxford Road building to Bruntwood Group (now the home of NCC Group plc), the National Computing Centre, now under Michael Gough who was appointed at the end of 2000, pursued a new strategy of developing and expanding its membership services for the IT Community and made a number of acquisitions of related membership organisations and publications.

This new strategy failed and the National Computing Centre diminished in size and turnover and became loss-making. Despite the many millions that had been received, and spent, from the sale of its assets and despite the new businesses acquired NCC made successive losses, and was forced to dispose of the some of recent acquisitions at a substantial loss with Michael Gough leaving the business at this time (Feb 2008).

In March 2008 Steve Markwell was appointed as Chief Executive. In 2009 NCC sold its software business including Filetab. As monthly losses increased and the size of the pension fund deficit increased, the company was placed in to administration by it's management.

Administration, Liquidation and Pre-pack

In Feb 2010 NCC went in to administration and ultimately liquidation. The few remaining assets and IP were transferred by a "pre-pack" administration arrangement to Redholt Ltd a new private company set up and owned by a group of six shareholders, including two former Directors of the insolvent National Computing Centre, thus distancing itself from the creditors which included a substantial pension fund liability which resulted in the insolvency of the pension fund later that year.

Redholt Ltd, was renamed as The National Computing Centre Limited (NCC Ltd) in Feb 2011. NCC Ltd although no longer a mutual not-for-profit organisation, retains many of the member organisations of the liquidated company. It also delivers many of the same products and services. It is still nationally recognised by bodies including the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, The British Standards Institution and others as one of a number of organisations representing the voice of computer user along with the BCS, SOCITM, ASSIST etc. Standards developed by NCC Ltd are still recognised nationally and its contributions to other standardisation are still sought. It has also extended its portfolio to return to consulting, a market NCC Group plc withdrew from in 2010.


External links

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