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Prolog MD Guy Smith: Shipping all over the world will present future growth opportunities

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Name:

Guy Smith

Role and company:

Joint managing director of Prolog

Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric): 

Approximately £40m

Employee numbers:

Approximately 800

Growth forecast for the next three years:

As much as is possible!

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:

We’ve developed operational centres of excellence, including e-commerce and contact centres, in order to focus expertise and deliver specialist operational solutions. We’re also uniquely flexible in terms of resourcing and can move staff around our one million square feet campus to support fluctuating demand and peak trading periods.

What’s the big vision for your business?

To continue to grow and further establish ourselves as the partner of choice in e-commerce, fulfilment and contact centres.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations:

We ship all over the world and we believe this is something that presents future growth opportunity. Potentially, this can continue to be shipped effectively from the UK. However, adding physical footprint in Northern Europe is not out of the question.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:

When I worked at Lotus, Microsoft released a product which rendered Lotus’ product obsolete. It was a huge setback for the business as a whole and taught me that even if something is going well, life can continue to surprise you and set you on a new path overnight.

What makes you mad in business today?

Companies that pitch purely on price, not on service.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

I predict there will be two huge changes in the market. Firstly, we’ll see a push from clients to reduce turnaround times, with same day dispatch becoming the norm. I also think we’ll see brand owners consolidate their fulfilment offering, delivering items from across their portfolios in a single package.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

It depends on the business. Businesses in this sector operate with long term contracts and therefore, should be a more stable proposition. Unsurprisingly, a strong balance sheet is also an important factor.

How would others describe your leadership style?

I think people would describe me as direct. I try my best to be relaxed, reasonable and professional at all times. To quote the old adage, you need to be ruthless in decision but compassionate in execution.

Your biggest personal extravagance?

Sailing. I’ve sailed single-handedly and with crews all over the world, across the Atlantic, around North Africa and the Mediterranean. It has been a huge part of my life.

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

The prime minister needs to encourage more lending to those businesses that need financial support. Bureaucracy is an obstacle for so many organisations. If this was reduced, businesses would have more time and resources to focus on development and growth.

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