Click Entertainment is well known to UK retailers as a major distributor of consoles, video games and accessories – and an MCV Awards finalist. Its UK base is in Croydon but that’s just part of a wider network of warehouses around the world.
The company recently made two senior additions to its team. Greg Whalley, its new deputy CEO, previously headed up commercial development at Koch Media, while Kevin Young, now purchasing manager, comes over from Creative Distribution. The company is still looking for a national account manager as well. With all this change afoot, we thought it was great time to talk to Whalley about the opportunities and pressures of running a modern distributor.
Most people will know you from your time at Koch Media, can you outline what your role was there?
I was part of Koch Media for 13 years and saw the company evolve and grow over that time. Working with a great team and external partners from retail to publishers, I learnt a great deal in my time there, with most of my years spent in the company’s sales team.
For the latter part of my time at Koch, I moved over to the commercial team to manage the relationships with our publishing partners. I had many enjoyable years and worked on some great titles, but the time came for me to explore other opportunities in the industry.
You left Koch to join Click Entertainment, why was that and how would you describe your new role?
I joined Click Entertainment in mid-February taking on the role of deputy CEO. For me this was a step up in leadership and presented new challenges. Building on what is already a strong commercial organisation to ensure further growth will be rewarding.
Just over a year ago, Click Entertainment took on a new majority stakeholder, Danish wholesaler Dangaard, who are in turn part of the sizable family owned Fleggaard group.
The annual group turnover of €865m is impressive along with sustaining a healthy margin. Click Entertainment sees huge benefits from being part of this group, financially and from the support it gives the organisation.
The growth has been exceptional within Click Entertainment and we are forecasting this to continue over the coming years as we grow our ranges within gaming and diversify into other product areas.
My role is to lead the talented team on a daily basis to make sure we execute the planned growth, ensuring we have the right strategies in place to adapt to an ever-evolving and challenging marketplace.
What challenges do you think the physical sales channel is facing at present?
It was good seeing growth in UK boxed software sales for 2017. Switch games performed very well along with the key triple-A titles. However, while there was growth, there are of course challenges ahead for the physical software market as digital continues to grow and space on the High Street for boxed video games continues to shrink.
There are pros and cons to both physical and digital purchasing, with many gamers doing a mix of both. Some of the main reasons the consumer will continue to buy physical given the choice are numerous: trade-in value, slow download speeds in many territories, better offers for new releases in a highly competitive retail landscape, some preferring not to share their details and, finally, the power of gifting.
Gamers playing individual games for longer due to constant DLC additions also represents a challenge for the physical market as purchases become less frequent than in the past. We all know digital is growing, especially in the mobile and tablet gaming sector, but consoles continue to be successful and we would hope that physical console software sales continue to have a place on the market for a long time to come.
How have you found the company culture?
I have found the culture at Click Entertainment a great fit for my personality and style. The whole team from commercial, finance, HR, customer services to the warehouse are full of enthusiasm and professionalism on a daily basis.
Click is proud of the strong relationships forged with global partners and delivering an exceptional level of service. While our culture is informal, it is professional and great to work with a highly motivated team.
What are you going to bring to Click and how do you plan on expanding and improving the business?
I bring with me years of experience in the industry and look forward to being able to adapt this experience to the team at Click Entertainment. We will continue to grow, and with that growth will come new processes and development of our systems.
“We will continue to grow, and with that growth will come new processes and development of our systems.”
We will evolve in line with the industry and have the flexibility and support from our parent group to achieve this across the globe. Building on the strong company culture will be key to our success as we attract new talent to be part of the Click Entertainment family.
Do you think the skillset for your sector has changed much in recent years?
The market is evolving and changing every year, but a lot of things remain steady like consoles and accessories, which continue to sell well and are a key strength for Click.
Physical software is very much still around and will be for some years to come, although the retail landscape has changed and a lot of what used to be bricks-and-mortar retailers are now online with their own retail sites or selling through various online market places. Offering a product range to suit their needs is a big focus for us this year, being able to supply a large back catalogue of products to help make us a one-stop destination for all our customers.
Are you looking for further hires at present?
We are always on the lookout for talented individuals who can fit into the company, for example having Kevin Young join us as the purchasing manager in January was a big plus for the company. With Kevin joining the team we will be able to utilise his skills in sourcing stocks from the market and so be able to offer customers that range, and also the price they need.
His work for Entertainment UK as a buyer, his time at Square Enix as sales manager, and of course the time spent at Creative Distribution ensures he has the experience and knowledge we need to help continue the excellent offerings. Currently we are on the hunt for a national account manager to focus on our UK business among other roles.