SpaceandPeople – Competitors and Directors

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SpaceandPeople (LSE:SAL) joined the AIM market in December 2004.  It sold 600,000 shares at 50p each (MCap of £5.7m).   These shares rose to £2.20 in 2008, then fell to around the issue price 2009-2012, rising to £1.52 in 2014.  Now they trade at 12p – 14p. This volatility reflects intermittent optimism about the potential of the business focused on organising the renting of space in high footfall areas, and the subsequent loss of optimism when some of the directors’ ideas for advancing the business failed to pay off.

The two founding directors, Matthew Bending and Nancy Cullen, started the firm four years earlier to,

“(i) fulfil a perceived business need from property investors to maximise revenues from shopping centres and other high footfall locations and

“(ii) provide a facility for brand owners and other potentially interested parties such as public relations agencies, field marketing agencies and sales promotions companies who use such locations to promote their clients’ products.

“SpaceandPeople has developed … a unique dynamic web-based system that allows promotional space to be valued and sold online…new advertisers would be drawn to the media and the revenues from mall income would be enhanced. This centralised function also enables the Company to provide an instant nationwide picture of promotional sites available on its service to advertisers.” (Admission Document)

It seems to me – but this may be beyond my circle of competence – that a nationwide service offering advertisers and retailers hundreds of potential sites (and help with set-up) is a useful economic function, and therefore likely to be sustainable.

Competitors

I’ve looked into whether Spaceandpeople have any significant competitors in the UK.  I’ve found some by doing a quick Google search. This is the list I came up with – when I mentioned I had done this competitor analysis to the directors they asked me to go through each one, so I read out the following.

  • Promotional Space, based in London. Seems to be short term promotional campaigns particularly in Tesco stores. SAL directors told me this one has gone bust.
  • Love Creative Marketing, based in London. About 40 sites available. One director only. Shareholders’ funds (net assets) £2,624.
  • Signature Spaces, Glasgow. Promotional spaces in Tesco Stores, Shopping Centres, City & Town Centres, Airports and Train Stations across the UK. One director. Shareholders’ funds £86,161. Trade creditors £0.27m, Trade debtors £0.136m. SAL director comment: work with a very limited number of space owners.
  • Retail Concessions, Hertfordshire. In-store concessions, e.g. DIY retailer, Tesco. Also catering trailer pitches (burger vans, etc.) in retailer car parks.  Mr and Mrs Johnson as directors.  Shareholders’ funds £0.578m, Cash £1.3m Tangible assets £76,632, trade creditors £0.657m. SAL director comment: work with a very limited number of space owners.
  • Space to Trade, N. Ireland. About 40 locations nationwide. Shareholders’ funds £0.36m, Debtors £1.1m, cash £0.06m
  • Forum CentreSpace, Newcastle upon Tyne. Promotional space and RMU’s in about 30 locations. Started 2001. Directors Mr and Mrs Ling. Shareholders’ funds £0.4m, Debtors £0.38m, Cash £0.77m
  • Access Point, Southport. Space in shopping centres and retail parks for promotion and retail. Incorporated 1997. Five directors. Shareholders’ funds £0.25m Debtors £0.86m, cash £0.1m
  • Destination Space, Salford. Retail and promotion. Incorporated 2012. Two directors. Shareholders funds £0.07m, Current assets £0.17m

The main outcomes from discussing these companies with the directors are (a) I had a pretty complete list, and (b) Spaceandpeople are by far the largest.

There are number of advantages in being the largest including name recognition with landlords and a wide variety of locations to offer promotors and retailers.

Also, there is a lot of regulatory and legal compliance to get right.  Spaceandpeople employ 6 people in this area alone. This forms a barrier to entry to the industry because of the level of expertise now required and because of the cost which in SAL’s case can be spread around a lot of venues.  Compliance service has become a money spinner in its own right with SAL charging “a modest” administration fee bring in £0.1m – £0.2m to the bottom line.

Directors

Matthew Bending, aged 54, CEO

In December 1999 he moved to Glasgow, after a career in conference marketing, to be marketing manager for Standard Life’s Shopping Centres.  While working there he developed the SpaceandPeople concept.  Holds 2.1m shares.  He told me that SAL is all he’s got and feels unable to sell his shares because of the signal that would send, and also because they are very thinly traded.

Nancy Cullen, aged 54, COO

Worked as a marketing man

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