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A Decade In Print: Phil Jones, Managing Director, Brother UK

In 2023, PrintIT Reseller is celebrating ten years in print. In a series of exclusive interviews over the next year, we’re inviting industry veterans to share their experiences over the past decade, what they’ve learned, and the highs and the lows of our unique and challenging industry. Here, Phil Jones, Managing Director, Brother UK shares his thoughts

PrintIT Reseller (PITR): You’ve been working in the print and IT industry for more than ten years. What led you to enter the sector?

Phil Jones ,MBE,(PJ): Like many it was more accident than design. I used to work in the pub trade in Dagenham in the early 90s, but I wanted a change due to the long hours that the job demanded. I went to see a recruitment consultant and – not realising they were specialists in the sales sector – secured a job almost straight away. The journey in print started there.

PITR: What was your first job?
PJ: The role was a trainee salesperson in the copier industry at London Office Systems. I sold photocopiers in the City and West End of London which gave me a firm grounding in cold canvassing, rejection, and the importance of maintaining a fluid sales pipeline.

I held a couple more industry sales roles before joining Brother in 1994 to help grow their fax business. That job was to look after the dealers and distributors primarily in the South of England working from home. Little did I know where that might lead.

PITR: What has been the high point of the decade?
PJ: Re-starting our apprenticeship programme in 2014. Seeing the impact we have made on the lives of so many young people who are now part of our workforce, is one thing I’ll forever feel proud of.

When it comes to social value, I believe that you should think about how you can change the outcomes of people locally first, through supporting education and enterprise and by creating opportunities for young people to make sure they have access to the ability to grow their futures and – at the same time – the local economy in which they live.

We are passionate about Tameside, where our business is based, and we feel our programme is making a real difference. The 20+ young people that have joined our apprenticeship scheme since 2014 have brought so much to our business and made us better in so many ways.

PITR: And the low point?
PJ: Brexit. Disconnecting from the EU market was an economic own goal, and we are paying the price for that now within our labour markets, in the supply chain and the availability and price of goods.

My personal belief is in a globalising world you have to integrate more into markets and ensure low- friction and high movement of goods, money and people. I’m not sure future generations will thank us for that outcome.

PITR: What (or who) has had the greatest impact in the sector in the last 10 years?

PJ: The cloud. It’s changed everything about how the IT industry is run and how we live our lives. I can recall being at the CeBIT conference in Hanover in the early noughties and someone saying that it would be the next big thing and would be a tipping point for technology.

They were right. As cloud technology continues to mature, cloud adoption for print is growing fast and we all, vendors and resellers, need to be ready to capitalise on this significant opportunity.

PITR: If you could change one thing about the last decade, what would it be?

PJ: I’d erase the COVID-19 pandemic in its entirety. A single global event that has impacted humanity and industry at every level.

We’re three years on from the start of the global pandemic and we’ll feel its impact for decades.

Despite the many difficulties it has presented, we are emerging with a newfound appreciation for our lives, what matters and who matters. The price of that however has been heavy at every level.

PITR: What has been your proudest moment of the past 10 years?
PJ: Being appointed Managing Director of Brother UK in 2013. I never thought I had the capability to take on such a role when starting with the business, so the pride I had walking through those doors in the top job, always stays with me.

PITR: Sum up the decade in three words.

PJ: Systemic existential change.