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View from the channel – Jamie Mulhall, Commercial Director, Mayday

Q: How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?
A: Despite living in the middle of a pandemic, business is good for us. We are based in Norfolk and I think our location is playing a part in that. The past few years has seen a lot of local companies acquired by larger businesses, which has left a gap in the market that we have been able to fill.

In this region, most organisations want to deal with local firms, we have a reputation for delivering great service and we have built strong relationships over the 40+ years we have been in business and as a result we have enjoyed remarkable growth this year. Growth has inevitably been slower due to coronavirus but it’s still healthy.

Q: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?
A: We believe there will always be an opportunity for print, people may well print less, but print will still play a key role in business. MPS remains key and there is a lot of demand for value-add wraparound solutions such as software and complementary IT services, which Mayday also provides.

Our business is built on service, so it’s not about the kit we sell but more about the business challenges we resolve and the service we provide. We have a service centre on Norwich, and a team of engineers on the ground, so our customers can rely on a fast and efficient response from us. That’s a key strength, with many buyouts resulting in the closure of local offices, some companies have seen a drop in SLAs, we’re picking up new business on the back of that.

Q: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?
A: Mayday is a one-stop shop, as well as the print side, we also offer IT services, stationery and furniture. We have invested heavily in the IT arm of the business and we have a number of sizeable clients. IT services is very much the future – whilst we’re well known as a copier company we’ve added additional resources into IT and we’re selling more and more services into our client base – the end result – we can’t blame IT anymore as we are IT!!

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?
A: The biggest challenge is the fact that OEMs are buying dealers and the remaining channel are competing against the manufacturers’ direct arms. As the market becomes more competitive and margins squeezed, we’ve seen instances where OEMs’ direct sales operations are dropping the parameters and looking to close smaller deals which can encroach on a dealer’s territory. For Mayday, our location has protected us from that – there doesn’t seem to be as much direct activity in this region.

I think pricing is also a challenge – there’s constant pressure to drive prices down, from our perspective we’d rather walk out on a deal than lose money – because if we don’t remain profitable then we’d have to lose staff and engineers, and that would negatively impact on the heart of our business – delivering excellent customer service.

Q: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And if so, what?
A: Our partners Ricoh and Toshiba are very supportive and we have a great working relationship. I think one threat comes in the face of the online channel, but a customer buying a box on price doesn’t get the added-value, bolt on extras, solutions or the service that makes a real difference to their investment.

Q: If you could change one aspect of your job what would it be and why?
A: That is a very good question. I have a great team around me so I really wouldn’t change any one thing about my job. The only thing I would like to change is being able to go out and visit customers face to face again – hopefully once restrictions are lifted and life begins to return to normal, I can do that – that is the best bit of my job.