VIP interview - 'we want more market share' - PC Retail

VIP interview - 'we want more market share'

Rich Marsden on growth plans, its new apprentice scheme and wearable tech
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It’s a busy 2014 for distributor VIP Computers – it’s launching an apprenticeship scheme and getting into the wearable tech market. Dominic Sacco asks director Rich Marsden about what’s next, the resurgence in laptops, PC gaming and more…

Are you looking to supply wearable tech?

Yes – wearable tech will be big in 2014. We’ve got the Razer Nabu which launches in the middle of 2014, and that’s an exciting bit of technology. We’ll run that exclusively in the UK on allocation initially. Razer has had 10,000 applications to write apps for Nabu already. The interest generated around that product now is frightening.

You’ve just launched an apprenticeship scheme – can you tell us about that? 

As a large employer in the Warrington area, one of the main aims for the apprenticeship scheme is to strengthen our links to the community. One of our commitments to the staff is where possible we’ll always look to promote from within. I see the apprenticeship scheme as playing a really big part of that over the next three to five years. 

I came in at the very bottom rung of the ladder. Someone gave me an opportunity, and we want to make sure we give local youngsters an opportunity too. Initially apprentices will sit in marketing, purchasing and sales, but this will open up to include a range of roles. We want to get three in and develop the programme for them. We’ve got work experience places set up with local schools as well.

Which categories have been performing best over the past year?

Our core components business – CPUs, motherboards, hard drives and VGA are all performing really well. Graphics cards are also going from strength to strength for us. But there’s a lot of focus for us this year on notebooks and tablets. 

Some retailers are seeing an uplift in laptop sales…

They’re in resurgence. People thought notebooks would bring about the demise of desktops, but if you speak to some of the system builders, they’ve never had it so good, despite desktop being in decline globally. I think the same principle applies to tablets and mobiles. Yes, people want a tablet but they also want to do more on that tablet, which ultimately leads them back to notebooks. 

Your Evolution 3: The Future of Technology event will take place on September 19th. What can we expect from that?

Evolution has been going for three years and I was really impressed at the quality of last year’s show. It’s a good opportunity to put our vendors in front of our customer base and let them talk about what’s new. Last year there was a big emphasis on PC gaming and educating customers about our channel. This year it’s more about giving practical help to our customers, so we’ll have sessions on business coaching and social media as well as a piece around credit limits.

What are your thoughts on the PC gaming Steam Machines coming out later this year? Will you be distributing any?

Not at the moment. There’s a lot of noise in the market about Steam Machines. I think they’ll definitely have some early success. To move people away from Xbox Live and PSN is going to be a challenge though. 

What’s next for VIP? 

We’re above where we expected to be, but there’s such a huge opportunity for VIP over the next three to five years, because we’ve got a good infrastructure, we’re a cash rich business and as a group we’re making acquisitions. We’ve expanded the size of our retail team and are taking on more retail customers. I believe there’s much more market share VIP can take across a number of categories. The outlook for the next fiscal year is we’re looking for double-digit growth again and we will achieve that this year. 

So it’s a positive time now for VIP. We have to keep growing for our partners.

FACTFILE: VIP Computers

Established: 1990
Based: Cheshire
Employees: 200+
Contact: 0871 622 7500
Website: www.vip-computers.com/uk

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