When it comes to keeping the customer satisfied, Retail FSL has got it down to a tee. Afterall in part it owes its very existence to customer encouragement.
The company’s founder Andrew Martin left the demanding world of corporate life where he’d had senior roles, including leading G4S operations in UK and Ireland, for a less pressured life of running his own financial consulting business. Yet within a year he was hard at it again.
In 2013, he and his wife, Amanda set up Retail FSL at home, but when customers came knocking a year later asking if he would consider setting up a financial platform to operate their own ATMs and other devices, he picked up the gauntlet.
They invested and built it and eight years later their determination and expertise means not only do they now head a staff of 45, have multiple international customers, but are also possessors of a Queen’s Award for international trade.
He said: “Our customers set us the challenge and we responded because it was a good idea and we succeeded. The exciting part for us is that we still feel we are at the beginning of our journey and see a large future for ourselves.”
The Basingstoke-based business today manages ATMs and deposit machines for banks and retailers to enhance their services, improve security employing innovative technology solutions which allows its clients to operate in any of the EU countries and the USA.
Retail FSL has combined numerous services to provide the first pan-European banking infrastructure covering all elements of an ATM network. Its principal market overseas is Ireland where it has secured 65 per cent of the available market share and it has offices in Dublin, Paris and Texas.
Exports have grown over 300 per cent in the six year period relating to this Queen’s Award and consistently represent 90 per cent of total turnover.
The customer is still at the heart of all it does. Andrew said: “One of our strengths is being very customer-led. We talk a lot to our customers and they come to us asking for solutions for various issues. If it is a customer-driven project then we believe there is more merit in the idea.
“We have our finger on the pulse of the industry and that allows us to give our customers a view of the industry’s direction and to lead them in developing their products to suit the consumer. We provide services, but there’s a lot of advisory activity to help our customers stay ahead of market trends, because we want to ensure that our customers have longevity with their business models.”
Few people predicted that the world would all but cease working in 2020. Covid-19 effectively put Retail FSL on hold for two years but Andrew decided to use the time to invest in the company’s future and change from a cash centric business to a payments organisation and has developed several new products.
Andrew’s eyes are on now internet kiosks which allow users to do everything from paying a utility bill to a transferring cash but Retail FSL’s immediate focus is on Open Banking which will revolutionise high street banking.
The UK is a leader in this new technology to give greater access to financial services to all people. The big banks have been mandated by government to have the same connectivity to their services – one ATM but every bank providing all customer services.
Andrew said: “We are very engaged in this initiative to put banking services back in communities where branches have closed and we plan to launch services around it and be one of the first UK companies to launch these terminals later this year.”
One of the biggest challenges Retail FSL faced when it started was competing with massive multinationals. Andrew believes that winning a Queen’s Award will improve their ability to take the big guns on: “The award will push us to the next level because it brings huge credibility to the business while helping to grow the business further, especially with some prospective customers who are prestigious banks and retailers.
“Having built the business from the kitchen table we see this award as recognition of what the company and especially the staff have achieved over the years.”