Reprofiled games and rebalanced menus are just part of what Blueprint is delivering for its customers as managing director David Purvis explains it’s all about content.
How do you see the first few weeks of the industry’s reopening panning out for you?
David Purvis: For Blueprint it is all about supporting our customers after more than 100 days with their businesses shuttered and with a raft of new protocols to follow.
We have created new game content in order to provide players with something fresh as they return and to switch the consumer narrative from social distancing and PPE to games and gaming entertainment.
During this period the Blueprint team is focussed on providing support and guidance on how content can drive recovery.
How will your daily work routine and business functions change due to Covid-19 and lockdown?
Blueprint has a small and cohesive team which we have re-shaped to ensure that our focus is on supporting our customers through this current phase and preparing them in any way that we can to take full commercial advantage of the recovery.
We are approaching this as a three-step journey. Step one is the operational challenge of reopening; step two is translating that readiness into returning to pre-Covid income levels and step three is about catering for future needs and demands. The relationship we have with our customers is not purely transactional, by which I mean completing a sale and moving on. Instead we view it as being partnership based and collaborative over the long-term. Covid-19 has not changed that dynamic but it has put it into sharper focus.
Social distancing and international travel are two key areas that will need adjustment. How will that impact on your business and what measures are you taking to adapt?
As a general and overriding principle we are following the government guidelines which involves working from home whenever possible and abiding by social distancing protocols which are becoming the accepted way of doing things.
In terms of meetings, the model we have in place is a blend of remote and face-to-face. Face-to-face meetings when they take place must have a defined purpose, an agenda and a set of action points with timelines – otherwise they are an indulgence.
I think we are in step with our customers who also want a more defined approach to meetings and how businesses interact.
You’ve got a reputation for hitting the ground running, so what’s on the product development plan?
Blueprint had a good lockdown – by which I mean we used the time productively to ensure that we were able to fully support our customers with outstanding content.
To this end we created new games which have been a big plus to AGC operators, we reprofiled games and rebalanced the game menus.
I hesitate to use the ‘content is king’ maxim but it really does underpin all of our customer conversations at the moment. We are very much a listening company and on the basis that our customers know far more about their players than we can ever hope to learn, we are acting on the insight and feedback that we are receiving.
The coming months are crucial to the health of the business. What do you think the government needs to do in terms of grants, tax concessions and regulatory support to ensure a sustainable way forward for you?
With the chancellor announcing a cut in VAT for hospitality businesses I would like to see a proportionate reduction in MGD that would help the industry enormously.
Dealing with this issue on a macro level, it’s essential that the government understands the dynamics of our sector which are so far removed from those of other parts of the leisure economy. The fact that we cannot use price as a mechanism to either attract business or protect margins, puts us at an extreme disadvantage.
We also need to ensure that we are not the only retailer on the high street which cannot offer a range of payment methods. My view is that, irrespective of the current crisis, we need to have an agenda for change built around a proper dialogue with policy makers.
What has been the real impact of lockdown on business and the industry in general?
Reflecting on the crisis caused by Covid-19, there has been significant damage to both individuals and to businesses, of that there’s no question.
We all know of people who have fallen ill and of individuals who have lost their jobs, which represent an awful personal cost. The prospect of double- digit unemployment is a big threat to any sector which is reliant on disposable income. Jobs are the biggest challenge facing the economy because with secure employment comes consumer confidence. If the chancellor can stimulate the economy and the government can support our sector, we have a fighting chance of being part of a recovery – but whether it’s V-shaped or U-shaped remains to be seen!