- We interview Simon Godolphin UK Sales Director of Europe’s largest POS display manufacturer, to find out what his career highlights have been, Jansen Display’s plans for expansion and trend predictions for the POS industry in 2017
How did your career within POS begin?
It was a chain of events really! I began working for the family business as soon as I’d finished my A-levels, and one of our clients was the company ‘Shopkit Design’. They approached me, asking if I’d be interested in a career in display, and I pretty much jumped at the chance! I began working for them as the UK Sales Manager in 1996, and it was where I was first introduced to the world of POS – which I found pretty exciting! Two years later, I left Shopkit and began working at Albion Design and Fabrication. Albion was where I really grew to love and understand the POS industry. I was working with some of the UK’s leading brands and our distribution partners across the world, which enabled me to experience different markets and cultures, as well as some very strange food!
Tell us how Jansen UK came about? When did it launch?
Whilst I was working at Albion, the company developed a relationship with Jansen Display, which is how I was initially introduced to them. We acted as their UK distributor and also developed a fair few joint products together. At the time, Jansen was a low cost East European Manufacturer based in the Czech Republic and they were primarily supplying snap frames, pavement signs and lightboxes, but they were looking to expand and had their sights set on the UK. They approached me some time after I’d left Albion, and asked if I would be interested in establishing their UK subsidiary. I agreed immediately! I then worked alongside them to bring Jansen Display UK to life, which ultimately happened in 2008.
So, Jansen is a global brand - can you explain how that came about?
Jansen was first established way back in 1995 – long before Jansen UK– in the Czech Republic. Back then, the company was heavily focused on manufacturing existing products on the market at a lower cost; much the same way China manufacturers can be seen today, I suppose! To begin with, Jansen’s subsidiaries remained fairly local to their manufacturing base. They opened offices in Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, focussing on Eastern Europe - they already had distribution partners in most European countries, so it made sense to go there first. They then began to branch out a little more, opening an office in Cologne, Germany in 2003, the UK office in 2008 and the Spanish office in Barcelona in 2013 – which is definitely the one everyone wants to visit! The expansion really had a great impact on the growth of the company. In 2008, Jansen reached a turnover of £8 million, which was when they looked to the UK as the next step of the plan. They now have 7 offices in 7 different countries, with a turnover of £18 million!
What did Jansen UK bring to the UK POS industry?
Jansen was already using key distributors to bring their products into the UK market, but what they really wanted was to expand the offer beyond just commodity products. They wanted to offer local stock. The idea was to give both resellers and end users access to low cost, high quality Eastern European manufacture. We definitely work in a competitive area but have key points of difference that separate us from other POS manufacturers – for example, we offer what we call ‘good, better, best’, which is essentially products covering economy, mid-level and premium. Our main competitors work in the ‘economy’ product area, importing from the Far East, whereas we work across all budgets, making our stock more diverse and reaching a larger demographic of customers. Some brands want premium products, and we can cater for that much better than our competitors. We have our own unique designs and also offer bespoke solutions, manufactured and supplied in under 4 weeks.
What is a typical day for you like?
Well, every day begins with a cup of black coffee to help with 7am starts! The phone starts ringing off the hook from 9am, and then I have to focus on fitting 16 hours of work into a 10 hour day. In general, they’re quite a mix; spent visiting customers, looking at strategy, developing new business and covering day to day running of the business. My typical day has definitely evolved a lot since having 6 people working with me; most of the day to day admin is taken care of by others, meaning that I can focus more on the business.
Can you give us some insight into Jansen expansion plans?
World domination is obviously the main plan – but that’s a bit long term! The short term goals are to expand in the UK, widening our customer base covering trade, resellers and end users. We’re also looking at ambitions in regards to ecommerce. It’s not the main priority at the moment, but we’re definitely looking to move focus onto that area as this is how we see UK buying strategy developing for both trade and retail customers. We’re also constantly exploring where we need to make our products in order to meet market pricing, and we’re continuously developing new products to meet our customers’ needs. We find that we’re gradually moving away from commodities and focusing more on technology led products, such as illuminated and digital items. They’re generally more fun to work with, so no complaints there! A big part of Jansen’s expansion will be the opening of their 8th office in France in 2017, and bringing our products to the US market also from 2017.
What major developments do you predict in the POS industry in 2017?
I wouldn’t predict anything too major. I think the drive towards digital will continue, and also towards more unique POS as the UK market is more brand orientated than continental Europe, where the product selection remains very stable. There’s always going to be a place for commodity products such as snap frames and leaflet holders, but as you can imagine these aren’t the most thrilling products for retailers or customers! With customer engagement being a priority for Jansen, our focus will remain on digital, indoor and outdoor illuminated display and large format graphic systems – the more exciting side of POS. We’re also planning on launching a range of outdoor media products in early 2017, which we’ll showcase at Euroshop in Dusseldorf in March.
What has been your biggest achievement since working at Jansen UK?
It has to be winning the supply of poster cases for London Overground in 2010. The project covered over 60 stations across the Overground network and took 3 years to complete with continuous supply ever since. It’s what really put Jansen UK on the map and also acted as a driver for product development, setting our focus and ambitions in large format outdoor advertising.
What had been your biggest challenge to date?
There’s a few! Predicting how the retail industry will develop in regards to POS and looking at which market sectors we want to develop in the future are both challenges that excite me but also give me a few sleepless night! The biggest challenge I face on a daily basis is knowing what the currency exchange rate is and what it’s going to be in the near future. Because we’re a very global company, with our products coming from Europe and the Far East, having a stable exchange rate is key to growing our business. This has been a particular challenge since the Brexit vote back in June! There’s also the challenge of working in a group of companies with 7 subsidiaries. Every country has slightly different design requirements, and of course it means there’s a lot of different languages involved! It’s sometimes challenging, but also very rewarding. Luckily, 99% of our communication is in English, as I’m yet to learn much Czech! I can however order a beer in most languages!