Andy Tipple, who was named Managing Director of Blueprint Operations in 2023 reflects on a year of opportunity and confirms the importance of managing costs on behalf of Blueprint’s growing customer base. He argues how the introduction cashless payment methods, the amendment of the 80/20 rule and the first uplift in stake and prize levels for a decade would represent a step-change for the industry.
How would you look back on 2023?
Although we have not yet got the two key asks from the White Paper over the line and onto the statute book, I am excited about the possibilities arising from the revision to the 80/20 rule and the opportunity to use modern payment methods on machines. The first will give the manufacturing and distribution sectors of the industry a modest uplift in sales over the next two to three years as operators adjust their B3 and Cat C/D ratios. There are a lot of older machines in the market that will slowly be removed as venues find an optimum mix to suit their locations. I think everyone agrees that Cat C will always play an important role across venues for players, but the current ratio format is dated and needs adjusting. Cashless is very exciting. For the first time it will allow machine players a choice of ways to pay for their entertainment and bring the low-stake gambling entertainment sector in line with every other retailer. Protecting customers is very important but with cash in less demand this will bring our industry into the 21st century. From a purely personal perspective it has been a year of change. Exactly five years on from accepting the role as head of product I became MD at Blueprint Operations which is also a highlight of the year for me.
What have been your highlights over the year? Talk us through some of the key developments in your business.
In 2023 BPO has introduced high-quality new content and contemporary new cabinet designs. The new Alpha Curve and the reintroduction of the Project brand represent a great springboard going into 2024. We have also seen major steps forward in technology and innovation such as age verification. Alongside product we have made some serious progress addressing and enhancing the customer support side of the business. The spare parts processing has been transformed and the Blueprint Assist app demonstrates our commitment to helping our growing customer base maximise revenue from their Blueprint machines.
And the challenges – economic, market development and rising costs? What have been the most concerning and how have you managed them?
Balancing the pricing framework is a real challenge. To address this, we have created a new Product Department which is constantly monitoring the market and providing updates on all aspects of pricing in order that we stay competitive and remain the market leader. Materials will continue to increase in cost as we move through 2024. We will do everything in our power to mitigate the impact of rising costs working our colleagues in Germany.
What objectives have you set the company for 2024? What do you want to be reporting back to us this time next year?
Our mantra of ‘Content and Connectivity’ complement the experience and skills that sit within the Blueprint game design and technical teams. In addition, we will continue to develop the technical support side of the business: great games and great cabinets are fundamental but helping to reduce our customers running costs will be more important than ever before.
How confident are you about the next twelve months: do you have high hopes for new regulation, an improving economy and growth in your business sector?
I think the answer to this question depends largely on the outcome of the White Paper and when the proposals become law. The other big issue relates to stakes and prizes which have stayed at the same level for 10-years. If the industry can benefit from the replacement of the 80/20 rule, from the introduction of cashless payment methods and an uplift in stake and prize I think we can be confident about the future and see some growth across the industry.