Ahead of both ACOS 2019 and the rapidly approaching new year, Paolo Sidoli comments on the drive for customer engagements, the changing cash landscape and the potential perils of Brexit.
Coinslot: Summer season over, focus to new year. What are you looking to get out of ACOS in terms of both product and market information?
Paolo Sidoli: “It provides us with the opportunity to showcase our new launches for the coming year and the show is our first point of reference on gauging customers summaries of how their businesses have fared. The show will also help us to pinpoint which rides will be promoted over the next 12-18 months. We can also liaise with customers accurate information on our site testing of our equipment over the past six months.
“Our stand has grown in size and this reflects our commitment to the show and to the UK and Ireland coin op sector in general. We want to reinforce our position as the main and most dependable supplier of rides in this sector.”
CS: So, what products will you be showcasing?
Paolo Sidoli: “We are looking forward to presenting rides that can command £2 per play. We have carefully studied this price point on our site testing and we have not encountered any resistance as long as the ride can set itself apart from the competition.
“The new three-seat Kangaroo up/down carousel will certainly be our key piece for 2020. Alongside this ride we will also be presenting a ‘baby’ twin Vienna horse with video and a beautiful compact unicorn carousel.
“With floor space at a premium in amusement establishments, we have to give a compelling reason to operators to choose our equipment in preference to others and the Kangaroo Carousel is a perfect example of this. In addition, we have to offer rides that can create interest outside amusement premises – the twin Vienna horse fits the bill nicely.”
CS: ACOS provides good networking. What will be the most important conversations over the two days?
Paolo Sidoli: “We are all mindful of the macroeconomic and political state of play and this will contribute to much enthusiastic discussion. But for industry dedicated matters, we will be reflecting on the huge rise of cashless in our society (closing of banks, reduction of ATM machines), the aftermath of the change in FOBT legislation, online gambling, potential increasing compliance and social responsibility to Bacta and non-Bacta members. But I suppose the main talking point will be a summary of the season so far across the country and how we as businesses can adapt to the new and fast changing economic realities where the digital revolution has transformed customer behaviour in work and in their leisure time.”
CS: How would you assess your performance since last year and what message will you be driving forward?
Paolo Sidoli: “I would like to think that as a company, SB Machines has satisfied our customers expectations in terms of the product that we have delivered to market and the exceptional service levels that our team has provided. My message is simple to the customer: we, as a company, will give you peace of mind when choosing the right piece of equipment for your premises. I call it Total Guarantee – a guarantee on the performance of the product, a guarantee on our technical knowledge of the product, a guarantee on our back up and a guarantee on future residual values.”
CS: On a wider scale, how did the summer go for the industry?
Paolo Sidoli: “Everybody, including ourselves, have been quite pleased. From my experience and from discussion with other operators, even though costs have risen, gross takes are on a par with previous years and with prudent investment in 2020, growth in turnover and margins are possible, because the business opportunities are still abundant particularly in and around the seaside areas in particular as people are starting to drift their spend away from the high street and out of town shopping areas.”
CS: There are major moves going on in the industry at the moment, how do you see the market evolving over the next 12 months?
PS: “The market is evolving at an exponential rate and there are many factors that we have briefly touched upon that will contribute to this evolution. However, I see another repositioning in the market of our customer base. The established operators, large and small, multi site or single site will maintain and strengthen their premises as go to destinations as they continue to invest in their product, décor and staffing while other operators, who may have lagged in terms of maintaining their annual investment levels will fall further behind and will find it tough to compete for the leisure pound.”
CS: What are the key trends and how are you proposing to address them?
Paolo Sidoli: “For me, the key trend is how to keep delivering the ultimate customer experience and make them return for more. Therefore attention to detail when delivering product to market is key. You have to set yourself apart from the others and if you can provide the best product that you are technically able to produce and study every aspect of its performance and functionality then the cash box will come good in the end.”
CS: Daft question we know for you, but as for Brexit, are you concerned and are you well prepared for a seamless transition?
Paolo Sidoli: “Fact: sterling has devalued to the tune of 15 percent since June 16. Fact: this has been coupled by general annual inflationary pressures. Fact: as a result, all goods and services have risen in price and quite considerably so. Fact: small businesses in general, lack confidence to invest, which brings about uncertainty and paralysis and therefore a downturn in economic activity and a squeeze on people’s income. I am not prepared for a seamless transition – I do not think anybody is.”
CS: Lets examine the state of the industry. What is your shopping list?
Paolo Sidoli: “Slightly off piste, I just want government legislative organisations to appreciate the hard work that distributors, operators and Bacta do for the general good of our seaside resorts and inland destinations. We provide jobs, we have strong social responsibility and a social conscience, we want to put on a show and leave people smiling. Large companies and the smaller family businesses, I believe have a common goal: make a fair profit and give value for money. The industry needs to have more good press and there are many fine examples of the hard work being conducted by operators which have been highlighted in Coinslot.”