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Copyright The Open University

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Copyright The Open University

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Mike Norris

Well the very essence of the business, I mean I have to go back a long time for this one but it’s so important to the overall creation of the company that I think it’s worthwhile.  When we started our business, or my predecessor started the business in 1981, I mean the early ’80s, it was perceived to be a retail business.  That’s why the name’s rather complicated and a retaily name, but we don’t have any retail visibility now.  And in fact one of the most important things to get in those early days was the authorisation to be able to sell IBM PCs.  Now to get that authorisation you had to have a shop front, glass on the street they used to call it.  So our original offices were fairly high street locations, we were in High Street Ken, we were on The Strand, we had an office in the city which is now a Lewins shirt shop, we had different retail outlets throughout the country.  But interestingly, nobody came into the offices in the ’80s to buy PCs, you'd go to different places to buy them now but at those time, the only way you sold them was to go to customers, to ring them up, to demonstrate.  So we had all this quite expensive retail outlets that we used to lock the front doors of every day and use this expensive retail outlets as sort of glorified warehouses really, so this was our supplier forcing us to do something, create a retail brand but the customer base didn’t want to buy from a retail brand, they wanted a business to business brand.  So we had to change our business model quite rapidly from a retail brand to a business to business brand over a matter of a few years, and it’s never changed back.

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