We spoke to Director Chris Hartley about life at Love2Shop Business Services, Park Group Plc and Chris's own learnings in business. How did the
We spoke to Director Chris Hartley about life at Love2Shop Business Services, Park Group Plc and Chris’s own learnings in business.
How did the business get started?
Love2shop Business Services is part of Park Group Plc which has been around since 1967. We are the UKs biggest provider of multi-redemption gift cards, vouchers and digital reward propositions. Love2shop Business Services is the corporate arm of the wider organisation.
What discoveries did you make when you first started out?
Nowadays we deal with over 20,000 businesses a year who want to reward and incentivise staff and customers alike. I think our learnings from the early days were that all businesses and end recipients are different. What is good for one doesn’t always work for another – hence the reason we always aim to provide as much reward choice and flexibility as possible!
How has the sector changed in the last few years?
There has of course been a significant move towards digital propositions in the corporate arena in recent years. These provide speed, flexibility and brand ability, and yet our physical vouchers and gift cards are still incredibly popular. The much talked about ‘death of paper’ is still yet to take hold, with many sectors, particularly those that need a simple means to re-gift, resistant to change. But it’s all about finding the right mechanic for the end recipient.
What is your point of differentiation and what issues are you solving?
Unlike most other suppliers, our gift cards are processed on our own processing network (flexecash) which is linked to many of the UKs best-known retailers including M&S, Argos, Debenhams, Currys, PCWorld and many others. This gives us tremendous flexibility and we have developed a comprehensive suite of cards which vary depending upon what our clients require – be that branding, remote value activation, the ability to exchange value for on-line spending, options to redeem value for holidays, cards that allow users to add their own funds at a discount, and so on.
This in house capability and associated flexibility has enabled us to grow significantly over the last few years.
What are most people surprised to hear about your business?
That we do more than just sell Love2shop vouchers! This perception is something that we encounter every day, but once we talk our clients through the vast range of services we have at our fingertips it always surprises people.
We recently acquired a company called FMI which will enable us to provide a more rounded consultancy service to businesses looking to run reward and incentive programmes. Traditionally we have been all about reward delivery – now we have the capability to help launch schemes, monitor performance, manage peer nomination programmes, provide online platforms, deliver staff / customer training, run road shows and much, much more.
Once organisations get past the perception of Love2shop as a voucher wholesaler alone and delve deeper into our wider capabilities, suddenly they start to consider reaching out to us for advice and guidance on making a greater success of their programme.
What are your standout achievements to date?
The development of the flexecash network, which processes all of our Love2shop gift cards, stands out in my mind as this removes our reliance solely on MasterCard and Visa networks, making us masters of our own destiny! We were awarded the prestigious Company of the Year award in 2015 at the IPM awards. We also launched Evolve in June 2016 which is a market leading digital reward proposition that has really taken he market by storm. We already have major clients like Vodafone, EDF and Travis Perkins utilising the system and its set to go from strength to strength.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Busy! I’m responsible for the B2B, Retail and Holidays divisions so when I'm not meeting suppliers, retailers or clients I’m working with the teams in each of these areas planning for the future. It’s a bit of a juggling act, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What does the future hold for you?
The future is looking extremely positive for Love2shop Business Services. We have great ambition for the brand, our products and our wider service offering. We have just relaunched our employee benefits solution in the UK and are also about to launch our new global proposition, which we are all very excited about, and which we are confident will give us the most comprehensive reward offering around. So you can expect to hear a lot from us over the coming months!