The UK is now firmly on the road to economic recovery, with PWC predicting continued growth in 2015 and 2016. But are the effects being felt by printer resellers? PITR asks the experts
PITR: How are you faring? Have trading conditions improved for your business and what are your thoughts/ plans for the future?
Mark Smyth, Operations Director, Vision: “We have certainly seen an improvement in the number of businesses going to market for new technology – businesses that want to explore new ways to be efficient, rather than just focus on saving money, as was previously the case. There is now more of a combined approach to drive efficiency, add value and reduce cost!
“We have continued to invest in many areas to support continued growth, including services and support, IT hardware and applications in the cloud. The plan is to continue to focus on business effiiency and key investments to support and sustain continued growth. This includes strategic acquisitions of companies with the right business fit for Vision.”
Wayne Drysdale, Managing Director, ePrint Digital, Managing Director, ePrint Digital: “We have achieved the same turnover in the fist six months of this year as we did in the whole of last year! ePrint Digital is growing by over 100% each year, through a combination of the service levels we provide and 100% client retention.
“Customers are looking for quicker, local, reliable service, with fast response on-site and first-time fix rates. They are not really asking for the lowest quotes, as long as you deliver on service. For the future, we are concentrating on service and further training for our experienced technicians.
“Imagine a business where the person who sells you the products also installs them and provides customer training, with the same contact looking after infrastructure for the years to come – in other words, a genuine one-stop-shop. There’s no need to imagine this; it’s already here. It’s what we do at ePrint digital and it’s proving very successful at growing the business.”
Matt Goodall, Service Director, Office Evolution: “Office Evolution commenced trading right at the beginning of the recession. Despite this, we have achieved profit every year. In the last two years we have seen a marked increase in sales and confidence in the market. We have doubled our staff in the last three years and are now seeking new premises to support continued growth.
“However, there are areas of business that haven’t yet caught up. Many construction firms failed in the recession when the property market crashed, and from conversations with local business owners it is clear there is frustration at the lack of commercial property for sale, which could restrict growth in the coming years. We have had to take the bold step of purchasing land and building our own premises to enable the company to move forward – a move that should be complete within 18-24 months.
“We have also seen a marked reduction in credit control issues caused by clients’ cash flow problems. Many now utilise direct debit and this enables us to improve our cash flow, which, in turn, improves everyone’s business.”
Sam Elphick, Sales Manager, Lex Business Equipment: “Whilst we saw a steady level of sales in 2013-2014, it was quite apparent that the economic downturn during this time had an effect on the purchasing behaviour of organisations. Firms were cautious about purchasing new IT hardware and upgrading printing equipment for their businesses.
“Our financial year end sales figures for 2014-2015 prove that businesses have now rebuilt confidence and are investing in new equipment, where previously they held back as their finances wouldn’t stretch to it. Over 85% of businesses take advantage of the flexibility of leasing arrangements to spread the cost of equipment over a period of up to five years.
“I am confident that this will only improve further and that as we venture into 2016 sales will steadily continue, if not increase slightly.”
Bruce Davie, Group Commercial Director, ZenOffice: “We started our MPS business during the last recession and have been fling since day one. We sell to market with a strong emphasis on cost reduction, a message that we have found resonates very strongly with prospective customers, whether in a recessionary climate or during the economic upturn.
“We have seen significant growth every year and it shows no sign of slowing up, so we are very positive about the future!”
Andrew Jones, Sales Director, 1st Office: “Sales revenue and gross profit have both seen a marked improvement and increase over the first five months of this year, compared to the same period in 2014. Hardware unit sales are up significantly. However, there continues to be downward pressure on service charge print rates, and the challenge to our service department is to remain focused on IT support services throughout 2015/2016.
“Working closely with IT providers from various fields of expertise has proved to be very successful. Developing further partnership arrangements with new companies will form part of our growth strategy over the coming months, including the acquisition of IT firms who can display a synergy with 1st Office and who can add value to our MPS and MDS offering.”
Jonathan Whitworth, Managing Director, DSales UK: “Next year will mark ten years in business for DSales (UK) and in every year we have experienced a growth in sales, even through the worst years of the recession. Our last fiscal year closed with record revenues topping £13.2 million.
“We anticipate continued growth based on a number of factors: the outstanding Develop product range offering customers cutting edge technology; our leadership in cost-effective document imaging solutions for SME sector customers; the expansion of our channel partner base; and the exemplary service levels provided by our chosen dealerships to customers.”
Derek Russell, CEO, RDT Office Solutions Group: “From our perspective, it appears there is a lot more confidence in the economic climate. We’ve seen a growing number of businesses who are happy to commit to investment in technology and solutions, which will positively impact productivity and efficiency in their organisations.
“What’s most notable is the fact that, in the main, companies are not making decisions based on today’s requirements but, instead, they are looking at the longterm. More and more are happy to look to the future and embrace services that will provide immediate and on-going tangible business benefits.
“For RDT, the market is buoyant and there are lots of opportunities, so much so that we expect to end this financial year recording a 20% growth in turnover.
“The biggest opportunity lies within the SME sector, and that’s a market we are aggressively targeting for growth. It’s interesting that up until now our industry’s focus has largely been on delivering MPS and MDS to corporates and enterprises. But SMEs are also seeing the benefits that come from a managed service that delivers visibility and control over costs. There is a major opportunity within small and medium enterprises – we see it as a strong growth area and we are extremely optimistic that we will enjoy significant success here.”