Mr. McGlone, last year CHG-MERIDIAN originated leases amounting to €76 million in the UK and Ireland. New customers accounted for approximately 40 percent of this total. So the Company clearly has a healthy portfolio of new customers for you to partner with over the next few years. Do you anticipate that this trend will continue over the years to come?
McGlone: Yes, an increasing focus on managed services in both the IT and healthcare sector provides us with an excellent opportunity to form deeper, more integrated relationships with customers, and to add greater value for those customers.
The CHG-MERIDIAN Group grew again in 2017, increasing the volume of lease originations by 8 percent compared with the prior year. What is the situation in the UK and Ireland?
McGlone: In line with the performance of the Group as a whole, new business in the UK and Ireland advanced by 8.5 percent. However, there is still potential to achieve double-digit growth rates in the region. Stepping up our activity in Ireland and increasing our focus on the industrial sector could help us to realize this potential. It will also be important to carry on reinforcing the hard work done by our team in the IT and healthcare sectors. Focus and a targeted application of resources are key to sustaining our success, but opportunities could also arise from making small, incremental changes to our strategic direction.
How do you expect the economy to develop in the coming years? What impact will digitalization have on our personal lives and on the workplace?
McGlone: Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it looks as if we will be able to expand the business in this region in the coming years. It’s an exciting prospect. We are operating within a very large market here, where we have a lot of scope to increase our market share. Our systems and processes and our approach to delivering customer solutions are being optimized on an ongoing basis. Digitalization continues to be a key driver for many customers, especially in the healthcare sector. Various healthcare projects are currently in progress that involve the digitalization of patient records.
We are also making increasing use of digital technologies in our own business model. In the last twelve months, for example, we have introduced digital signatures and launched a Group-wide project aimed at making all internal systems and processes completely paperless. This also serves to highlight the importance of secure and effective data management as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation comes into force.
Do you see any risks for the UK economy and for CHG-MERIDIAN from the ongoing Brexit negotiations and the resulting economic changes?
McGlone: Brexit has made the political landscape in which we operate much more unpredictable. The stakes are high both for the UK and for the rest of Europe. So it’s incredibly important that an agreement on trade is reached. There is clearly a lot of grandstanding going on at a political level between both sides, and we should not be distracted by this as we seek to grow our business. While it is difficult to forecast what the outcome will be when the UK leaves the EU, we remain focused on providing customers with the best possible solutions to help them manage their IT and healthcare assets in this volatile environment.
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Declan McGlone: In more than 30 years in the leasing industry, Declan McGlone has held various positions in sales and operations, primarily focused on technology sectors. He launched his career at UK and American banks, and followed this up with a twelve-year spell at the UK telecommunications company BT. McGlone holds an MBA and is currently working toward an MSC in Finance.