Jonathan Bennett is Commercial Director and industry specialist within the Print team. Here he shares his thoughts about his role and talks about what equipment is currently most in demand.
Tell us about your work history...
I started my career as a barrister’s clerk in the late 80s, providing administrative and business support to the barristers. I then entered the world of broking with a vehicle brokerage, who today are one of the most established vehicle finance brokers in the country.
After a couple of years there, I joined North West Securities, which was eventually subsumed into HBOS. After a decade there, I took up a role with Surrey Asset Finance, which was in turn acquired by Close Brothers Asset Finance, and I’ve been here ever since.
How does your industry experience help you in your current role?
There is no substitute for experience, which - in my role as Commercial Director - allows me to take a strategic and informed view of the business, and the sector as a whole.
One of my main goals is to plan, develop and implement commercial strategies that reflect the priorities of Close Brothers, and to Protect, Grow and Sustain our business model in line with the group’s strategic objectives.
Being a prudent lender, these strategies focus on creating opportunities for sustainable growth over the long-term, ensuring we are able to lend through all economic cycles.
Can you tell me a bit more about your current role?
My current role has five main areas of focus:
- A direct sales target selling asset finance into the print and packaging sector through the eastern regions of the UK
- Managing a direct sales team
- Managing the arrears and collections function
- Overseeing the credit and underwriting function with a dual reporting line into our business MD and our head of credit
- Supporting the team with commercial issues, including liaising with internal and external legal advisors
What types of assets do you finance?
We provide finance for both new and used equipment for print businesses, suppliers and vendors. In effect, if you pick up an object with an image on it then we fund any part of the process that put it in your hand.
What machinery/equipment are you finding is currently most in demand?
That is a difficult question because it’s a broad market that we support and each of our customers are unique and have very specific needs to thrive. That is the starting point of the approach we take with our clients.
Recent examples of assets we’ve funded include and 8 colour flexographic press – along with finishing, rewinding and camera verification equipment – and a 5 colour B1 Lithographic Press.
We’ve also restructured customers’ finance agreements to create cash headroom during the pandemic, and also finance for capital expenditure allowing them to change their product lines, for example creating PPE that eased the supply shortage created by Covid.
What technological developments have you seen in the industry?
Automation - throughout the industry, technology has been used to reduce manual interruption in manufacturing because to remain competitive businesses need faster, more accurate machines that are less dependent on manual processes.