Warranty provider SquareTrade is making a big push into UK retail. Helen French talks to new MD Kevin Gillan

INTERVIEW: SquareTrade grows UK business, seeks retail partners

Smartphones, iPads and laptops are all incredibly popular with consumers, but most are as expensive as they are fragile. So how do people protect their goods? Sometimes a big iPad case just isn’t enough.

Until recently the choices have been to rely on home insurance, take out expensive warranties at the shop where said product was purchased, or add monthly insurance when taking out a phone contract.

SquareTrade aims to change all that. The firm, which is based in San Francisco but now has a London headquarters too, was founded in 1999, expanding into Europe from 2009 onwards. It focuses on offering extended warranties for consumer electronics, selling online and in stores, giving protection against both mechanical/electrical problems and accidental breakage.

Managing director Kevin Gillan joined the team in April this year, with a wealth of experience that includes time as group director for Carphone Warehouse Group, CEO of Geek Squad Europe, and commercial director of Best Buy Europe.

He says: “When you think about how much money we’re spending on our gadgets these days, and that we’re all walking around with technology we can break, the opportunity was there to come in and shake up the industry and provide the kind of service that customers really want in the UK, whether it be for iPads, iPhone or even TVs.”

It’s hard to build up a reputation when you have a non-tangible product. Nevertheless, SquareTrade has managed it. “If you look at the reviews we get, it’s unbelievable, people write or make videos and say ‘Thank you SquareTrade’.” 

It gives consumers confidence that they can trust the product. “You want a warranty where you think, ‘That’s quite reasonable, it’s not a lot of money, and it’s enough to give me peace of mind,’ and if it is dropped or it breaks I can easily get back the value I paid for it.

“If you pay £200 we either give you a new product worth that, or give you the cash back – it’s that sort of transparency we hold in high esteem – other forms of warranty/insurance often work on a depreciated value.”

Customers can buy SquareTrade products online (eg Amazon or Ebuyer) or instore (eg Tesco or Asda, with more to come). Making a claim is simple too – Gillan says consumers merely have to call or fill in a form online to get an answer within minutes. 

“The other thing about our model is that competitors don’t want to pay out as that’s how they make money, but if you want to be genuine you want to have integrity in the market, that’s why you’re there, for if things break. You should be proud of the fact that you’re helping customers when things go wrong. We don’t quibble, we pay out, because we know that if we help a customer once, they will come back the next time they buy a gadget. You have to take a long-term view on these things.”

The firm is now looking for new retail partners. “I want to expand the business in the UK,” says Gillan, “and we’re looking at a couple of big retailers right now, as well as mobile operators in the UK and across Europe.” He encourages retailers and etailers who are interested in partnering with SquareTrade to get in touch.

Gillan is excited and enthusiastic about what’s in store for the company. “There are lots of opportunities coming up, such as the youth market, as they’re more into their gadgets than anyone else. 

“I’ve worked for a lot of big companies, and it’s a rare thing to join a company that could grow to be the next big thing. It’s going through phenomenal growth. In a few years SquareTrade could be a household name – and I feel very fortunate to be a part of that team.”


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