The Year Ahead: NRM’s Andrew Ludlow talks EAG and 2023

Network Resource Management – more readily known by the moniker NRM and led by Managing Director Andrew Ludow, have been leaders in network and software design and implementation services to the retail gaming and leisure markets since 1994. With nearly thirty years’ of market experience to draw upon, we put some key questions to Andrew.

You announced the link-up with Air Dice in October 2021 – what’s happened in the last 12-months and what has Air Dice brought to the table?
The first point to make is quite how quickly that 12-months has flown by! I would say that the backdrop to the last year or so has been one of genuine optimism thanks in no small part to the exceptional team that’s in place at NRM which has delivered new products, services and opportunities to a growing customer base.

We have completed a relocation of our trading premises, grown our headcount by more than 40% and established a firm foundation for growth as we enter 2023. It might be a bit of a cliché but the relationship with Air Dice really is ‘Hand in Glove.’ Whilst the business and people fit is fantastic, so is that balance between support and empowering the business to get on with and do what it does best. Having a partner that is really successful in its own right, particularly in the arena of on-line content development and distribution also brings a different perspective.

In your opinion has the industry recovered from the brutality of Covid – what stage of the rehabilitation process do you think we are at?
On the whole I think the industry has recovered as well as could have been expected. That said, I believe some sectors are demonstrating slightly stronger recovery headwinds than others. What never ceases to amaze me is the absolute resilience of this industry, that dogged determination to deal with the challenges (and also opportunities) that world events such as Covid have created. In terms of rehabilitation, if I look at NRM I believe we have recovered well and pushing forward very positively. From our customers’ perspective, I think that’s sector dependent. From a consumer perspective I think there’s still some Covid lag manifest in a tangible shift in consumer habits and a Covid sensitive legacy.

NRM enjoyed an upbeat ACOS – what are your hopes and aspirations for January’s EAG?
ACOS was very good for us and I really get a buzz from seeing our team busy with customers old and new. The NRM stand is always busy and I’d like to think this is driven by the relevant products and services that we offer, coupled with the strength of relationships built over many, many, years. We always endeavour to be innovative, relevant, upbeat, transparent and supportive in our approach and EAG will be no different.

2022/23 will see NRM attend more exhibitions and roadshows than at any time in its entire history! Coming off the back of ACOS and EAG, which are predominantly UK and land based, ICE will see us adopt a different approach. Air Dice will be at ICE on a fabulous stand and NRM will be joining them for the entirety of the show. We have full access to the stand facilities and will be showing a small range of NRM product. It will be the first time that representatives of both organisations have come together at a trade exhibition and we are rather looking forward to it!

With the financial pressures facing all businesses, as a technology driven company have you ring-fenced your investment in R&D?
Like most businesses in the land-based retail gaming sector we faced some robust challenges through lockdown resulting in a significant reduction in business revenues. This inevitably had an impact on the short-term investments we made as a business.

Since we have emerged from the lockdown(s) we have not only ring-fenced our R&D investment but we have invested further. The increase in headcount encompasses additional hires in our development team. We are also investing in new software platforms that we will be looking to launch and commercialise later in 2023, so watch this space!

For some people NRM is synonymous with Bingo but what other sectors is the business active in?
I think that’s a fair point, but it’s also a position that is changing. Whilst Bingo is still – and will continue to be – a cornerstone of our trading activity, NRM is more than a bingo technology and content provider. From a sector perspective we cover most land-based gaming venues, from AGC’s, Bingo Halls, Clubs, Holiday Parks, LBOs and Pubs all of which have NRM products, content and services. An important point to note here is the cross-market learnings that we benefit from and how they can enhance what we supply.

Where do you see growth occurring in 2023?
I believe the growth will still come from our core markets and products. There’s still plenty of headroom for us to grow, we have great customers who we view as partners and fabulous products, with further enhancements being delivered in 2023. Innovation is in our DNA and we have some really exciting projects in development, some sector specific and some not. Diversification into complimentary sectors, building on and enhancing our existing product portfolio will also deliver additional growth.

2023 – confident or cautious mood?
Confident, absolutely. We have worked really hard to position the business for growth post-Covid: this has been a big team effort, supported by the wonderful people at NRM, by Air Dice as well as by our loyal and supportive customers. Having weathered the Covid storm including lockdowns, it’s an absolute breath of fresh air to be pushing forward in such a positive way.

NRM are exhibiting at EAG and can be found on Stand 250, in The Bingo Hub.