It’s been a busy year for NRM with new partners, an acquisition and a hugely successful shift from ‘vertical’ to ‘lateral’ thinking. An intriguing response to the pandemic, Andrew Ludlow journeys through the shock of Covid – or what he describes as “more precisely the response to Covid” – and a wish list for 2022 – ‘trading stability’ and ‘a considered and balanced White Paper’. Who can argue with that?
ANDREW LUDLOW MANAGING DIRECTOR NRM
Coinslot: A year that opened in lockdown, staggered through to reopening, via a supply chain crisis and ending with Omicron: how will you look back on 2021?
Andrew Ludlow: It has been a rollercoaster of a year punctuated by a series of significant challenges, some opportunities, almost constant change and for everyone associated with NRM and the bricks and mortar bingo sector, great sadness. Paul Whitbread founder of NRM and serial innovator was known to so many in the industry and I do miss his input, his friendship and his wise counsel.
There’s no doubt that the industry was paralysed by the imposition of lockdown but a key personal reflection is how the NRM team rose to a man and woman to meet those unique challenges and to deliver new opportunities which impacted the business and those of our loyal customers in a hugely positive way. Q4 opened with a new equity partner in the form of Airdice, the acquisition of Probability Jones and a really uplifting two days spent with the industry at ACOS – a remarkable bitter/sweet year on so many levels and in so many different ways.
Coinslot: We’ve had five months since re-opening, what have been your highlights of the year?
Andrew Ludlow: Businesses are about values and about philosophy. The word resilience keeps cropping up but I cannot avoid being in total awe of the ‘whatever it takes’ mindset of the NRM team and that sits at the core of the company.
Linked to this is the support and optimism of our partners including our suppliers and the sense that we were all in this together, manifest in a real sense of co-operation and solidarity which was heart-warming. It might be a cliché but it really was a case of ‘together we are stronger’.
Other highlights would be concluding the equity investment with Airdice and the purchase of Probability Jones – both really important business milestones.
Coinslot: 2021 has been a major challenge to the way our businesses operate. How have you risen to this challenge and what new developments are you introducing to rebuild and strengthen your operation?
Andrew Ludlow: Covid and more precisely the response to Covid shocked the economy and in particular private businesses to their foundations. And on occasions you need a shock of such magnitude to force you to recalibrate, review and regroup.
We moved from thinking vertically to thinking laterally, a shift that has delivered some really interesting opportunities and outputs that have refreshed the business. Recruitment and attracting the right talent is fundamental to every business.
By seeing work as being ‘what you do’ as opposed to ‘where you do it from’ we have been able to broaden the net and attract some really impressive individuals to the business.
A more agile and flexible approach allows us to do things a little differently and is certainly delivering positive results. NRM has always been seen as an innovative company, and we’ve consciously driven and nurtured that approach and working on some really cool developments that we will announce in the New Year as well as building on existing products/services and adding incremental value.
Again, there’s some really innovative developments that we will be looking to deploy during 2022.
Coinslot: What are you looking for in 2022 and what’s on your New Year’s wish list?
Andrew Ludlow: We come back after the Christmas break to two very important expos that NRM is exhibiting at so it would be really encouraging to have well-attended editions of EAG and ICE London.
Aligned to this, my wish list includes trading stability and certainty for our business and that of our partners.
A considered and balanced White Paper containing proposals that are based on evidence and that enable the industry to be competitive are essential for all businesses in the supply chain. I would also highlight leveraging our relatively new relationship with Airdice and maximising the opportunities following our acquisition of Probability Jones.
Finally, and after for what many in the industry has been a brutal 12- months – my final wish is for health and prosperity for our families, friends, businesses and business partners as we navigate 2022 and whatever that holds.