The Carlisle boss of a national amusement machine supplier has revealed the huge price his firm has had to pay to support the introduction of the none round pound.
Leisurematic, which operates about 1,000 coin-operated machines across the length and breadth of the country, is having to fork out more than £30,000 to ensure it can survive the arrival of the new pound coin.
That’s the total cost to have the coin mechanism in every machine either reprogrammed or replaced.
“We just really had to bite the bullet on it,” says managing director Jonathan Barker, who thinks the amusement industry and vending sector in general will be hit hard by the introduction of the new coin.
“The impact on businesses that have coin validators is phenomenal.
“It’s imposed on you but we accept the reasoning behind it.
“It’s not something you can protest about it’s just the nature of being in business.”
The company, which was established 10 years ago by Mr Barker, has had a year-long strategy to approach the change over.
He says: “We’re as apprehensive about it all as everyone else because it comes at a significant cost to the business.
“We’ve had to make provision and knuckle down and make sure it happens as smoothly as possible for all our operating sites.
“We maintain it’s going to cost our business in excess of £30,000 overall. That’s to change the currency acceptance on all our coin mechanisms.
“That cost has to be absorbed but we understand that progress is progress is progress and there are certain aspects of business that you’ve got to accept to an extent.
“We don’t feel it will benefit us anyway having the new pound coin, but there’s a reason it’s been brought out.”
Leisurematic offers amusement machines and children’s rides on a shared-income rental basis.
Part of its rental package is that it covers all maintenance of the machines, meaning the firm absorbs the whole reprogramming and replacement costs of the coin mechanisms in its machines.
Mr Barker says the company has dealt with coin changes in the past but thinks this is the most radical experienced due to the shape of the coin and what he says is a narrow timescale set by the Government to phase out the existing pound coin.
“Our services engineers have to work very quickly in order to hit the target of every machine being reprogrammed by the time the old coin gets phased out,” he adds.
It’s a process that will have a bigger impact on some businesses than others but every business or organisation with a machine that takes pound coins is likely to be affected.
Paul Blake, owner of Silloth Amusement Arcade, has between 80 to 100 machines.
He hopes most of its coin mechanisms can be reprogrammed, which is a cheaper process than finding a new compatible mechanism to ensure the 12-sided coins are accepted.
He also says the arcade is likely to be able to accept both coins during the co-circulation period.
“Whatever happens it’s a bit of a nightmare really.
“It’s a costly measure and the people who make these coins don’t reimburse you at all.
“It’s just a case of this is what’s coming out and that’s it. You’ve got to get on with it.
“It’s not just me. It’s everybody. There will be tens of thousands of people similar.”
It’s not the first time his family have had to do this.
Having run the arcade since 1946 they have had to go through the same process every time there is a change to sterling coins.
New pound coin facts
As of March new one pound coins will come into circulation and will be in co-circulation with the old pound coin for six months.
By October 15 all those old pound coins stashed away in jars, bottles and piggy banks will need to be spent or banked as they cease to be legal tender.
It also means that any businesses or organisations with coin handling equipment such as vending machines, trolleys, gaming machines, lockers and any other machine that weighs, counts, checks, sorts, accepts or dispenses pounds will need to be adapted or replaced.
The new coin, aside from its distinctive shape, has different dimensions to the round pound. At 2.8mm thick, it is thinner than the original coin. It's also lighter, weighing 8.75g and is slightly larger.
The pound is being replaced for the first time in more than 30 years because of its vulnerability.
The Royal Mint, which is producing the new coin using cutting edge technology, says about one in thirty coins in circulation are counterfeit, which is the reason why the new, highly secure coin is being launched on March 28.
The Royal Mint says features included in the new £1 coin ensure the highest available levels of security are in place.
"The High Security Feature added by The Royal Mint means that for the first time, 100 per cent accurate automatic recognition is possible on a genuine or counterfeit coin."
Features which make it more difficult to counterfeit include its 12 sides, a latent 'hologram' image, micro lettering and its milled edges.
It is also made of two metals, gold coloured nickel-brass and silver coloured nickel-plated alloy.
Silloth Amusement Arcade is already in the process of having its coin mechanisms checked to ensure it is ready for the introduction of the new coin long before March 28.
Without undergoing the process, no- one would be able to use the machines eventually.
“We have to change every machine which takes a pound coin,” says Paul.
“Anybody that’s in this industry, whether they have a kiddy ride or they’re somebody that rents equipment, or a vending machine company, everybody that takes a pound coin they’ll have to do that as well.
“It’s quite expensive, to be honest.
“It was the same with the new 10p a few years ago.
“There was a new 10p and a 5p came out and we had to do them all then. This is just the same exercise.”
While it’s a costly measure for him to take, Paul says that if it’s going to help eliminate counterfeit coins, it will be worth it.
Businesses are being encouraged to prepare for the introduction of the new coin during the co-circulation period between March 28 and October 15, when both will be accepted.