When the LAI Games international sales supremo first moved from financial services into amusements, his friends believed he’d be playing games for a living. Not quite...
How did you first get involved with the amusements industry?
Like a lot of us not born into it, by accident. At the time I was working in the financial services industry, a bit frustrated with certain changes out of my control, and picked up a copy of the London Evening Standard to see what sales appointments were being advertised.
There was one for an export sales executive for a company called Deith Leisure, part of the Sega Group. I thought it looked interesting, sent my CV off, met with Leon Deith and started a week later! That was in 1994.
Why? What attracted you to this sector?
Being perfectly honest, I knew nothing of the industry at that stage. However, arriving at the Deith offices in New Malden and seeing a showroom full of the best coin-op games available (all on free play!) made my mind up pretty quickly. All my friends thought it was cool I was playing games for a living. If only they knew...
Do you think it has changed much since then?
Certainly. Just looking at the video sector of the industry, customers used to call up wanting the first games from the inbound containers, often prepared to pay a premium to be ahead of the queue. Advancements in technology played a huge part, where we set the standard and the consumer industry was playing catch-up. This has clearly changed, the consumer market having greater funding, resources and outlets.
What are the biggest positive factors for the sector right now – the drivers of growth and development?
Our industry has amazing resilience and the ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions. So, continued innovation and development of new games is key. Fortunately for LAI Games, we have a great team doing just this, giving us in sales great products to work with. Many existing and new markets are also embracing redemption, which in turn drives us forward, providing motivation to develop better games.
And what are the negative ones – the obstacles to growth?
I suppose the biggest factor currently is the general global economic condition. Our industry is completely dependent on the amount of cash in the player’s pocket and their confidence in their own financial position. Looking at the industry as a whole, availability of affordable technology in the home, everything from tablet PCs to large-screen TVs and smartphones, is diluting the need or desire for traditional locations for entertainment. In addition, legislation and tax regimes have fundamental effects on us, opening or closing opportunities available to us. These are constant.
Looking at your whole career, what do you reckon was your smartest move (large or small)?
Probably leaving Sammy Europe and joining up again with Leon at Deith Group, where I progressed eventually to sales director. A great learning time
And your dumbest one?
Hmmm, where to start...
Where do you hope you’ll be, professionally, in ten years’ time?
Doing my CEO’s job.
And finally – if you’d never embarked on this career, what other line(s) of work would you have liked to pursue?
My own exotic car sales business – I’m a bit of a petrolhead.
1985-89 Barclays Bank – international securities clerk
1986-89 MI Group – six months as trainee financial advisor
1989-94 Allied Dunbar – financial advisor. Arranged financial solutions for clients, including life assurance, pension planning, inheritance planning, investment advice, mortgages, savings, etc.
1994-2000 Sega Amusements Europe/Deith Leisure – sales executive. Direct sales to UK, Ireland, Europe, Middle East and Africa. FEC design using CAD. Project design and presentation, account management, exhibition stand design and layout.
2000-01 Playsafe Monitoring – sales and account manager. Sales and marketing activity, customer management. Sales strategy, budget and target planning, presenting and demonstrating software packages.
2001-02 Sammy Europe – sales manager. Identifying potential new products from Asia to introduce to UK market. Importing and testing new products with operators/customers, appointing and maintaining relationships with distributors, direct sales to UK and Irish operators.
2002-09 Deith Group – sales manager, then sales director. Direct sales to UK, Europe and Middle East. Managing sales team, advertising, PR and marketing, including Website management. Securing product
2009 Agora Gaming – project manager. Worked on rollout of new betting shop business, research and acquisition of hardware and systems for shop fit, liaison with developer and shop-fitting companies.
2010-11 AMG Leisure – export and southern sales manager. Sales and customer management of company’s portfolio to UK customers, introduction and development of export business. Responsible for advertising and marketing activities, development and maintenance of Website.
2011-present LAI Games – international sales manager. Managing distributors and direct sales to key accounts and operators across Europe and Middle East. Supporting distributors at international trade shows. Direct marketing to distributors, operators and potential customers. Liaison with R&D team for new product development.
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