INTERVIEW: Chris Spearing, PDP

James Batchelor
INTERVIEW: Chris Spearing, PDP

Last month, MCV reported that US-based peripherals specialist PDP has opened a new UK office. But this is just the beginning of a larger expansion into Europe.

“PDP is the No.1 gaming accessories manufacturer in North America, by quite some margin,” the firm’s newly appointed European regional manager Chris Spearing tells MCV. “When you get to that level of market penetration, you need to look outside of your core areas for future growth. “We identified two key markets for that – the fast-growing mobile sector and, of course, Europe. It’s the biggest gaming market and, although it’s more segmented, Europe offers us the ability to replicate our American success.“

Of course, we already have distribution across all of Europe via our various partners. However, there’s no substitute for people ‘on the ground’ in the key territories. We’re in the process of recruiting for a new office in France, and will then look to expand into other territories, such as Germany, next year.”

BRITISH?BASE

Spearing is one of three new members of the UK team, operating out of the recently opened Windsor office.He is joined by senior sales manager Birute Tursa and consultant Harry Holmwood, both from PDP’s California office. And Spearing is confident this trio is all the company needs to make it big in Europe.

He says: “Having Birute here is a huge win – she built our Latin American business and took us to No.1 in Canada. “And Harry knows the business inside out – he’s guided PDP into new areas and paved the way for some exciting partnerships.”

Central to the company’s plans for Europe will be its licensed products. PDP prides itself on strong ties with all three platform holders as well as some of the world’s biggest brands. And in a market as competitive as peripherals, there’s no better way to catch a consumer’s eye than with instantly familiar faces smiling back at them from your products.

“Gaming accessories has become quite a commoditised business,” Spearing explains. “There are many smaller companies basically sourcing and rebadging the same product from China as there are few barriers to entry in doing so. We made a decision not to play in that ‘race to the bottom’ of quality and price, and instead focused on building a portfolio of licence partners allowing us to build unique and appealing premium products.”

Through its relationship with Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, PDP has produced several officially licensed ranges in the US, and has even been able to combine these products with other brands. Prime examples include a Mortal Kombat arcade stick, which was developed in collaboration with Warner and bundled with the game, or the paintbrush-style Wii Nunchuck produced for Disney’s Epic Mickey.

“This ‘dual-licensed’ strategy has worked really well for us in the US,” says Spearing. “Being such a big player allows us to win licences across multiple territories which might be too expensive or risky for a smaller company. For example, we’ve had huge success with our Energizer-branded range of chargers, both in North America and Europe.“

The other big growth area we see is in mobile accessories.  We’ve launched a fantastic range of Disney-branded accessories in the US, to great success, and have a whole range of iPhone, iPad and Android product in the pipeline.  “We feel we’re uniquely positioned to capitalise on the ‘app and accessory’ market, as our teams comprise both hardware and software development expertise.”

GOING?CONTINENTIAL

With a UK office now established, a French one in the works and a German outpost to follow, it’s clear to see the determination underlying PDP’s methodical push into the largest markets this side of the Atlantic. And the company is sure to have more planned once it has accomplished these initial goals.Spearing adds: “Broadly, our objective is to take the strategy we’ve followed in the US – strong product, strong licences and a strong, determined team – and replicate that success over here. “We’re at the beginning of an exciting journey, and look forward to working with our retail, distribution and publishing partners to make that a reality.”

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Tags: interview , pdp , chris spearing

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