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View from the channel

Andrew Ratcliffe, Managing Director, Key Digital

Q: How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?

A: We’re definitely in a better place as a business. We’ve been growing year-on-year as well as developing our processes and systems continually. Continuous improvement is the key to any success, I think the worst thing you can do as a business is to stay still.

I’m confident that we have all the resources in place to deliver great results over the next year and well into the future. We’ve seen double-digit percentage growth every year since the business first began in my garage 10 years ago. Four years ago we bought a former business centre in Burnley and renovated it into our head office, and we’re already running out of space.

Q: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?

More environmentally friendly
More environmentally friendly

A: I’m sure we’re not alone in saying that buying habits are changing and the demand for sustainable, more environmentally-friendly solutions are increasing tenfold. The ‘Attenborough effect’ has changed consumer habits and business practices, so we’ve made sure our product lines and our positioning reflects those requirements.

Q: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?

A: We’ve always worked on adding value to our proposition, giving customers the very best solution that works for them. Whilst we continue to do that, we’re leading with key sustainability messages that connect to true business drivers, talking about the ‘triple bottom line’, or the ‘3 Ps’: People, Profit, Planet.

We’re making every aspect of our business reflect this message of sustainability, having committed to the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals and engaging with the Clean Seas campaign. Key Digital’s commitment is to the future of the planet and we’re becoming to be the go-to sustainable document experts. We’re getting noticed by managing directors and CEOs as we have their best intentions at heart.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?

A: The race to the bottom is becoming very dangerous to both the industry and to customers. There’s a very short-term business view from some competitors who are just awaiting the next acquisition. It doesn’t feel fair to the customers who often don’t get the service they were promised, but it also unbalances relationships with manufacturers, distributors and leasing companies.

Q: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And if so, what?

A: We’ve been very lucky to partner with great manufacturers such as Epson and Ricoh and finance providers like Grenke, who have taken the time to understand our business needs and help us along our journey. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers and distributors have this same long-term view which means we may be losing out on potential exploits that would pay dividends over time. It would be great if our partners could identify that we’re not here just to make a quick buck, but they’re investing in lasting future success.

Q: If you could change one aspect of your job what would it be and why?

A: I wouldn’t change anything about my job, it gives me complete satisfaction. I love the people I work with and I’ve got to a stage where my work/life balance suits me perfectly – if I’m able to go for a run every day then I’m happy!

www.key-digital.co.uk

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