Page 1


January 2021

Issue 306


Navigating the rough seas ahead


inspiring success

A perfect storm has resulted in sea freight prices rocketing, but how will this impact the office products industry?

A BRIGHTER FUTURE ExaClair’s vision for a post-COVID world GETTING CONNECTED Learn to shine online WASTE NOT Sustainability starts now

Here to make it easy for resellers to do business With a legacy dating back to 1852, we offer choice, flexibility and an outstanding customer experience.

Contact us today for more information: www.vowwholesale.co.uk marketing@vowwholesale.co.uk @VOWWholesale VOW Wholesale



The start of a new chapter January 2021

Issue 306


Navigating the rough seas ahead


A new year is often a time for fresh starts, goal-setting and renewed motivation. However, with a tough lockdown in place, COVID cases spiraling and the impact of Brexit beginning to be felt, the start to this new year doesn’t feel quite as hopeful as ones that have come before. But it is not all doom and gloom. This time around we have the hope of the vaccine and, with each week that passes, we are getting a step closer to returning to some sort of normality. The industry is also a lot better prepared A perfect storm has resulted than it was during the first lockdown last March with new ways of in sea freight prices rocketing, but how will this impact the working, new product lines and alternative distribution methods office products industry? already in place. You have all proved, time and time again, that you really are a resilient bunch who, I know, will be ready to take on another year of challenges! We kick off the first issue of 2021 with our BIG ASK discussing the issue of rising sea fright prices - with the industry predicting that there are stormy seas ahead. We then look at the results of the Office Power industry survey, focusing on the impact that wholesaler changes have had over the last year. Ace Office’s Keith Boulter discusses the importance of customer relationships in our first DEALER SUCCESS story and our second story celebrates Lex Business Equipment as it hits a big milestone! From there we delve into the ever-growing issue of sustainability, looking at how to reduce plastic waste in your business and how using certain ink cartridges could improve your carbon footprint. With the world continuing to rely more heavily on digital platforms, we also explore how you can become an online marketing wizard. Our LIVE IT section invites you to take a well-deserved break, followed by our first FATHER P. CLIP of 2021 which will, hopefully, bring a much-needed smile to your faces. We close the issue with our FINAL WORD which looks at the – slightly less light-hearted – topic of VAT loopholes in relation to online cartridge sellers. As always, don’t forget to chat to us on Twitter and let us know your thoughts and opinions: @dealersupport. inspiring success

A BRIGHTER FUTURE ExaClair’s vision for a post-COVID world

GETTING CONNECTED Learn to shine online WASTE NOT Sustainability starts now

Ellie Potter Acting editor

EDITOR Nell Walker


HEAD OF SALES Matthew Moore

DIRECTOR Vicki Baloch

Dealer Support is the leading monthly publication for dealers in the business supplies industry. It provides information on the industry (both in the UK and overseas), information for and about the UK’s independent dealers, as well as information and advice on running a small business. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the views of the publishers. Copyright of all the material published remains with Intelligent Media Solutions Limited. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, copied, stored in an electronic retrieval or transmitted, save with written permission or in accordance with provision of the copyright designs and patent act of 1988. Printed in the UK by Buxton Press www.buxtonpress.co.uk

All email addresses are formatted firstname.lastname@intelligentmedia.co.uk

Annual subscriptions are available at a cost of £68.00 for UK and overseas by surface mail, £90.00 for airmail. Subscription enquiries should be sent to the address opposite

Intelligent Media Solutions We Work Building, 115 Mare Street, London, E8 4RU Tel: 0203 794 8555 Fax: 0203 794 8554 Email: info@intelligentmedia.co.uk Web: www.dealersupport.co.uk

inspiring success

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SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Visit dealersupport.co.uk/subscribe to receive Dealer Support for free every month Issue 295




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OEMS AND MPS How are OEMS helping sell MPS? DRIVING CHANGE Inside the newly-launched Go2


new products and category trends

Issue 296





2020 VISION New products and categories

More Shredding. Zero Jamming.

February 2020






inspiring success

Next Generation Shredders


January 2020


Issue 294



Decemebr 2019

inspiring success

IT PREDICTIONS FOR 2020 What to expect for the year ahead

PHIL JONES Brother UK’s MD talks learning and leadership


MARKETING Why now is the time

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DELIVERING WHAT’S BEEN PROMISED Steve McKeever’s advice for dealers BREAKING INTO EDUCATION Making your way in a lucrative sector



The latest news and views from the industry


Mark Daisley predicts better times are ahead


Sea freight price increases indicate choppy waters ahead

20 THE IMPACT OF WHOLESALER CHANGES Office Power survey the industry



Ace Office’s Keith Boulter: customer relationships are key


Lex Business Equipment celebrate a big birthday



Reducing, reusing and recycling

LEADERSHIP 36 GETTING CONNECTED Switch on to online marketing


What will 2021 bring to the comms party?


Ink cartridges that reduce your carbon footprint


Take a break and enjoy some lighthearted fun

42 “Very few of us were sorry to see the back of 2020 but, as we welcome in a new year, we still find ourselves navigating through rough seas as the fallout of COVID-19 continues”



The good Father on stretching your way into the new year


VAT loophole closes on foreign online cartridge sellers



THE MONTH THAT WAS Initiative supporting independent dealers ‘Keep It Local’ campaign expands With the delivery of 2021 catalogues imminent, Nemo and Office Club members will be building on the momentum generated by their national campaign with the launch of a new ‘Keep It Local’ branded tape. “Working with our supply partner, LSM, dealers can now package up all their deliveries with the new tape brandishing the Integra members have received their Initiative catalogues, together with free

words ‘Another Local Delivery’, alongside the

digibook version and access to a comprehensive marketing support programme

campaign logo, to further raise awareness of

to promote the range in 2021.

the ‘Keep It Local’ push,” Nemo and Office

Despite a challenging year in 2020, Initiative has continued to provide dealers with a consistently priced own brand, and fantastic margin

Club MD Tim Beaumont explained. “We are now getting regular contact from

opportunities. With growing concerns about stock in the channel, distribution

dealers that have successfully launched the

via Antalis, VOW and direct with suppliers has been - and will continue to be -

Keep It Local concept in their area, sending

key to supporting members.

us copies of letters of support from their MPs

With less choice in the industry now when it comes to a ‘best value’ range,

and the coverage they are getting from their

Initiative provides an important point of differentiation – particularly when

local media and Chambers of Commerce. It

quoting for new business and, more recently, for the home office.

is exciting to see the enthusiasm for Keep It

Additional pricing support, and promotions planned for this year - together

Local, and we have so many other ideas that

with continued benchmarking – mean that members can be confident they are

we will be rolling out to our members in 2021.”

providing customers with a competitively priced, quality range. A free Initiative

Following over 5,000 unique visitors in

insert in the 2021 VOW catalogues will also help to highlight the brand. Aidan McDonough, Integra’s CEO, commented: “Initiative continues to

November to the website - which directs visitors to their nearest dealer - the campaign

provide members with an incredibly strong proposition. Not only is it the most

is certainly gaining traction, and with Nemo

extensive dealer group own brand in the industry, it is also the most widely

and Office Club members due to get delivery

available. In a challenging year, Initiative has performed strongly, and we have

of their new catalogues in boxes packaged

seen an 11% uplift in specific categories including inks and toners, soft plastics

with Keep It Local tape in the next few days,

and archival. Undoubtedly, there will be further challenges next year – the

there is every reason to believe that 2021 is

focus for us will be on supporting our members during the inevitable peaks

going to be the year that the Keep It Local

and troughs.”

campaign will continue to grow exponentially.

[06] JANUARY 2021



Konftel goes the extra mile with charity support


TUNED IN with Geoffrey Betts, managing director, Stewart Superior

A real-life Mrs Santa Claus completed a 35-mile Christmas Day ultra marathon to bring miles of smiles to sick children,

Welcome to the second issue of Dealer Support TUNED

with support from conferencing specialist.

IN, a new series of podcasts for the UK business supplies

Tracy Halligan, dubbed ‘Tinsel Tracy’, completed


the epic challenge in just under seven hours, raising thousands of pounds for local hospitals. She then

In the course of his 30 years in the UK business supplies

went on to make her Christmas dinner and open some

industry Geoffrey has seen many changes, trends and market


shifts. In this episode he covers Brexit, new products and

She began at 5.50am from her home in Penketh,

the environment, as well as UK industry developments.

Warrington, braving freezing conditions – and returned to cheers and celebrations from neighbours. “It was

He has an upbeat message

a magical experience, from seeing the sun rise on

for dealers and other sectors,

Christmas morning to reaching the finishing line. All

is demonstrably supportive

the backing and well wishes have been wonderful,”

of BOSS Federation – the

she explained.

UK office products industry’s

Tracy was boosted by support from audio and

trade association – and

video conferencing manufacturer Konftel who are her

touches on entertaining

official sponsor. UK sales director, Jeff May, who also

nights in Frankfurt, amongst

lives in the town, praised her sterling efforts.

other topics.

“What Tracy has achieved is truly outstanding and we are very proud to be supporting her every step of

To listen to the podcast visit www.dealersupport.co.uk

the way.”

Brother UK report: channel set to play key role supporting food retailers Channel resellers are set to play a key role in supporting

when the regulation amendment comes into force next

food retailers in meeting the upcoming ‘Natasha’s Law’ food

October found that just one-in-five (20%) are completely

safety guidelines, according to a new report by business

prepared to meet the requirements of the incoming law,

technology solutions provider Brother UK.

reducing to one-in-ten (13%) for smaller businesses.

The Food Information (Amendment) (England)

Almost half of all respondents (47%) revealed that they

Regulations 2019, commonly known as Natasha’s Law will

don’t have adequate labelling solutions in place to address

come into force across England in October 2021. Under the

Natasha’s Law. Of those that do have labelling systems in

new law, all pre-packed for direct sales (PPDS) products,

their kitchens, close to a third (32%) still use handwritten

which includes fresh foods like salads, sandwiches and soups


that are made and packaged on-site, will have to be labelled

This is despite 94% of food retailers saying their

to make clear what the name of the food is and must provide

businesses takes allergens very seriously, with almost seven-

a full list of ingredients, with all allergens emphasised.

in-ten (69%) having already offered staff some training

The survey of 100 food retailers that will be affected

specifically on the new regulations.

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [07]




Leading in isolation I

f you’ve suddenly been forced to self-

and reprioritise on behalf of our organisations. A year ago

isolate, this can be very disruptive – but

the UK government certainly could not have predicted that

disruption is something we can embrace.

topics such as lockdown, furlough and vaccination would

We have to shift gear and change the

top their agenda right now; the crisis has forced a level of

way we make decisions, speeding up

rapid refocusing and decision-making that previously would

rather than trying to slow down. For many

have taken months, if not years, to achieve.  

leaders this requires a new, more agile mindset - one which seeks ways to accelerate velocity while remaining focused.

The COVID crisis has actually become a moment of opportunity, an inflexion point in markets which has opened fresh routes to growth and success. Many have


learned to make difficult choices, and to follow through, by

It is often the case that many leaders find it difficult to let go

stopping projects that do not align with the few priorities that

so that others can take responsibility and act with autonomy.

make the biggest difference.

However, it’s very hard to retain a command-and-control style of leadership when you’re leading remotely. If you have struggled to devolve decision-making

BE HUMAN Many leaders are having to work from home, giving others

responsibility in the past, now is the time to do it. Identify the

insights into their interior design choices and personal

decisions only you can make, and delegate the rest. If you

lives. This level of informality has had a dramatic levelling

feel others lack the necessary skills, it’s up to you to address

effect across many organisations, removing the usual signs

any capability gaps by developing the people around you

of corporate status such as the size and location of one’s

and offering them opportunities to grow. Reach out, build

office, the floor it is on, and the places in the organisation we

relationships of trust, and help others to take responsibility –


most organisations are bursting with talent just waiting to be unleashed!

We are all on the same screen, and this has encouraged many to become more informal, more accessible and more human.


Now that vaccination is becoming a reality, and we really

While most leaders have always recognised the value

can look ahead to a new normal, let’s hope that this humanity

of prioritisation, many have struggled to make tough

can become accepted as an essential element of successful

decisions and stick to them. COVID has forced us to stop

leadership – whatever organisation or team you’re leading.

[08] JANUARY 2021



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A brighter future ExaClair is confident about its post-COVID future, and is looking to help its customers also thrive once the pandemic is over, as managing director Mark Daisley explains


ark Daisley has seen many things during

Mark adds that having the might of the Exacompta

his 27 years in the office products

Clairefontaine Group behind it helped the business deal with

industry – from recessions to numerous

the effects of the pandemic - and acknowledges that some

technological advances – but the

other businesses in the sector are struggling. “It is very sad,

COVID-19 pandemic brought new

and we have to be humble and understand their issues and

challenges he had never encountered

problems,” he says.

before. However, they were challenges he and ExaClair met

The pandemic will change how the marketplace looks,

head on and, as a result, the company saw its sales hold up

Mark adds. “Customers are going to look to the UK more

well in 2020.

and more for their supply chain and the independent dealers

As with many other businesses in the sector, when the

- those that step up to the plate, move with the times and

first national lockdown was announced in late March, sales

understand what their customers’ needs are - will survive and

dropped significantly – about 60% year-on-year, Mark reckons

become stronger. The strong will survive this and there will

– but started to recover when ExaClair brought a new range

be fewer of them, for sure, but those that come out the other

of PPE products to market.

side will be a lot stronger.”

Sales further recovered when online customers started to ramp up their operations in the following months. “All in

ONLINE Moving with the times will be crucial for businesses in

all, the year was horrendous for everyone out there, but our

the sector in order to survive, and that, inevitably, means

business ended up 6% down,” he says. “Credit to my team –

developing more of an online offering, Mark adds. “Content

it was fantastic effort in challenging times.”

is so important for dealers now,” he says. “You cannot just

[10] JANUARY 2021




You can listen to more of Mark’s views as a podcast at dealersupport.co.uk

produce a catalogue or a flyer and expect it to work for you.” Mark adds that dealers have to understand their

promotional activity and product samples. The wholesalers do their bit, and are usually quite successful, but we don’t see

customers’ needs and how they are changing. “You may have

how they engage with their customers and we want to get

to deliver to customers who are working from home outside

more involved with their customers.

of the business hours you normally deliver to.” But he adds there are some businesses out there that

“Their customers are consumers of our products so we want to do anything we can to help. We are launching a large

aren’t doing this yet. These are dealers who sell the same

range of tutorial videos that can be loaded onto dealers’

products in the same way, without trying to sell other products

websites which educate the customer about how to use the

in the range that the customer might not realise they stock.

product or, for example, what environmental accreditations

“There are so many dinosaurs out there,” Mark says.

the product has.”


factor for customers, and the pandemic hasn’t changed this.

The wholesaler and dealer market has, historically, been a

“We commissioned a survey mid-last lockdown and 75% of

significant part of ExaClair’s business and, moving forward,

respondents said that environmental accreditations and the

still will be, Mark adds. “We are seeing a switch to online

environment were either very important, or important, in their

retailers, especially through the pandemic, and I think this

product choice - second only to comfort and the colour and

trend is going to stay - but we supply to all multinational

ergonomics of the product – how it fitted into their house or

retailers; we have more than 400 independent retailer

home office,” Mark says.

Environmental accreditations are an increasingly important

accounts on our books so the dealer and wholesaler channel is a fundamental part of our business. However, we have to


diversify, and explore new channels, and we would love to

This can help dealers as there are numerous stresses on the

help our customers to explore new channels too, so that’s an

sector, such as rising costs, although this hasn’t affected

area we’re focusing on.”

ExaClair too badly, according to Mark. “We have seen a small

To this end, ExaClair want to work with dealers to do this, and promote their products. “We want to talk to dealers; we have collateral, and we wish to invest in you with your products. We will support you with online promotions,

increase in the cost of raw materials…so we didn’t have to put too big a price increase through in January. “But we are getting inundated now with requests from retailers, etailers and commercial businesses to review their

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [11]



product ranges for them - especially those that outsource

Being part of a French-owned conglomerate also

from China and the Far East. I understand the cost of

doesn’t impact the business, Mark says, as ExaClair has

containers more than quadrupled prior to Christmas for

always been an independent part of the Exacompta

shipments to the UK.

Clairefontaine Group. “That’s how the group works; each

“Sometimes we find ourselves a little bit out on price.

individual business unit is a separate profit centre; we are

For example, if we are 20p more expensive for a ring binder

left to our own devices. I think that has stood us in good

than if you were buying from China, don’t come back and

stead; we can operate independently because we always

hammer us saying ‘you have to be 20p cheaper if you want

have done.”

the business’; that is our best price - but understand that the quality will be better, you don’t have to order a container


at a time and you’re getting the product from the UK, or

With so many stresses on the market, as mentioned,

sometimes Europe.

businesses have to adapt to survive, and Mark’s advice for

“The cost is so much less as you won’t have to commit

companies is to get online, get their data right and listen to

so much capital. Customers shouldn’t expect a local

what customers want. “Online is the way forward. Everyone

manufacturer to match China to maintain their margin; what

has been educated in it during this pandemic - even people

you have to do is change prices.”

who have never had a computer or iPad before. Our online orderbook has rocketed.


“We had one customer complain to the territory manager

Brexit is also a concern - although Mark says that ExaClair has

that our website was too good, and he was spending too

been prepared for any eventuality. “It isn’t impacting us too

much money!”

much,” he says. “The only issue we may have could be what

Mark says that the customer would log onto the website

happens at the ports. We can’t control that, but everything we

and find offers there - and discover other products he hadn’t

can control is in place.

seen when a representative had visited him and find himself

“I think there will be some impact on deliveries; we’re not

buying more as a result. “What a wonderful complaint to

seeing it at the moment but that’s not to say, in a few weeks

have! I hope all dealers have a complaint like that from one of

times when the trucks start rolling a bit more, that we won’t

their customers.

see hold-ups at ports.”

[12] JANUARY 2021


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Scanning the field To help people who are now working from home to replicate the work they do in the office, PFU (EMEA) Limited has launched two new affordable personal document scanners


return to lockdown in the UK in early

SCANSNAP iX1400 AND iX1600

January has meant that the number of

Information management solutions provider PFU (EMEA)

people working exclusively at home

Limited has sought to solve this problem with the launch

will have risen again. During the first

of the ScanSnap iX1600 and ScanSnap iX1400 personal

lockdown in March and April 2020, the

document scanners, which aim to help connect people’s work

number of people working at home

and lives with one touch, whether they are in the office or at

shot up to 46.6%, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Even in the seven days to 7 June, once the

home. For those who want to automatically digitise and organise

lockdown measures had started to ease, more than 40% of

their documents with one touch, the ScanSnap iX1600 is the

workers reported working from home at some point.

option to choose; those who want a scanner that is easy to

Since then, it has become clear that many office workers enjoy the flexibility and convenience of working at home – no lengthy commute to bookend the day, for instance – and

use so they can scan, save and share digitised documents in minutes should consider the iX1400. The ScanSnap iX1600 can scan 40 pages per minute – the

would like to continue with this mode of working even after

fastest ScanSnap speed to date – and automatically scan,

the pandemic has ended.

recognise and classify different document types. It is wifi-

While manysimple, managers have seen the benefits that home enabled, which means that it can be set up to scan anywhere Beautifully effortlessly efficient working can bring, there are problems to be overcome. For

that has a wireless network and, The ScanSnap iX1600 comes

instance, a common issue with home working is ensuring that

with the superb personal organising ScanSnap Home software

staff can access the same quality scanners as they have in the

as standard.

office to enable them to collate, organise and file important

ScanSnap iX1400 enables users to simply draft, edit and

documents just as they would in the office. Domestic scanners

manage documents that have been scanned. Features include

are often not up to the job, and this can create issues.

automatic recognition of documents, grouping according

[14] JANUARY 2021




to document type and extensive search functions so that

sizes, from individual freelancers up to large corporates –

information can be found quickly.

anyone who wants to make their work life easier.

Like the ScanSnap iX1600, the iX1400 can also scan

All the information is stored securely, and is instantly

40 pages per minute and has one-touch operation - and

accessible in whichever storage location or cloud service the

ScanSnap Home software included - it has a USB connection,

customer uses, providing a seamless bridge between the

so it is ready to scan quickly, with no need to configure

physical and digital worlds.

complex settings, and includes specialist features such as a

These models complement ScanSnap’s existing range

receipt guide to make scanning small or non-standard sized

of personal scanners, including the iX1500, which has an

documents easy.

established reputation in the marketplace for its simplicity,

With simplicity at its core, the iX1400 also includes a Quick Menu to make creating searchable PDFs, or editable files in

speed and ease of use. “For many businesses and individuals, managing their

programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint, as

personal and professional lives can be a struggle, and

easy as possible.

paperwork is one more necessary, yet time-consuming, task we all have to deal with,” says Mike Nelson, senior vice president,


PFU (EMEA) Ltd. “With the growth of remote working, the

The ease of use of these scanners means that they can be

ScanSnap iX1600 and iX1400 are designed to enrich day-to-

operated by anyone, no matter how little experience they

day tasks, make life easier for users and create a smarter way

have in IT – all they have to do is press one button.

to work from home. From one-touch scanning, to advanced

These easy-to-use machines can significantly reduce

features for small teams, our re-imagined personal scanner

the amount of time that workers spend on paperwork and

portfolio makes it easy for users to improve productivity,

document administration and storage, which means they

whether their priority is simplicity or high performance.”

are freed up to work on other, more productive tasks. This is

The prices of the iX1400 and iX1600 also reflect the fact

crucial as 86% of IT and business decision-makers say that

they are aimed at all sizes of business, costing £368 and

managing the amount of information in their business poses a

£467 respectively. In addition, to celebrate the launch of the

challenge, according to findings in the Fujitsu Image Scanner

ScanSnap iX1600, customers can claim a free Google Nest

Organisational Intelligence Survey 2020, a research project

Mini until March 31.

into the state of digital transformation in Europe. This can boost the business’ productivity and help it to thrive – and, as we look to the prospect of a post-COVID landscape, businesses will welcome all the help they can get. The ScanSnap scanners are aimed at businesses of all

Beautifully simple, effortlessly efficient

To watch the launch video of the new products, get more information, view the promotion and to download a range of enablement assets visit: partner.imaging-channel-program.com

The ultimate in personal productivity www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [15]



Navigating the rough seas ahead A year ago it would cost around $2000 to ship a 40-foot container between China and most European ports; today the cost is anywhere between $8000 and $10000. A perfect storm has resulted in sea freight prices rocketing, but how will this impact the office products industry?

Peter Cowan, procurement

for somewhat longer. Further to this, the sheer congestion in

director, Data Direct

the major UK ports means that they are physically unable to

Sea and air costs have been a huge factor throughout 2020, and

move empty containers back onto vessels to send to China. Ships have been decommissioned as ocean carriers to cut

will certainly continue for the next

capacity when demand is low, ensuring maximum yield from

three-to-four months. Increases in

any floating stock which is still active; lack of crew has also had

airfreight costs are obvious – ‘belly’

some influence. Even though clothing, etc., is down in sales,

Space, the space in the ‘belly’ of

people are shopping like crazy for new gadgets, home offices

passenger flights - is down by 80% as

and general home improvement – most of the stuff we import

passenger numbers have plummeted. In terms of seafreight, we have hit the absolute perfect storm - a combination of COVID-19, Brexit and the time of year. Freight always sees a massive boom for the Christmas

– so there is still a high demand. We are already experiencing shortages of many products, but importers have now adapted their procurement cycles to allow for increased transit times, and we are no different. The

sales, but now there is also the additional stockpiling ahead

shortages should soon start to ease as the transit machine

of Brexit. These factors, combined with lower staff levels due

starts to operate more efficiently, and new processes and

to distancing and other safety measures, new/slower customs

systems are honed to perfection.

processes, a huge imbalance of imports v exports and the fact

As a result of all these challenges, everybody has to be

that any PPE shipments will always be prioritised, make for

prepared for some disappointment. Whether it be the new

the perfect storm. With carriers being over-booked by around

PlayStation, or a fusing unit for a printer – plan purchases as far

50%, supply and demand does its work and prices increase

ahead as possible, and don’t over-promise until your supply


chain has been confirmed. Having detailed discussions with

Just to add to the carnage, Chinese New Year at the end of January will bring the next phase, and will keep prices high

[16] JANUARY 2021


your suppliers will help to alleviate the bumps in the road. As always, plan for the worst and hope for the best!



Darryl Brunt, sales and marketing

worse by the delays in the redeployment of vessels and the

director, Fellowes Brands UK and

escalation of port congestion, where missed time slots and


the slow turnaround of containers have meant an increase in

Very few of us were sorry to see the

redirections and failed dockings.

back of 2020 but, as we welcome

Like the pandemic, the sea freight crisis will, no doubt, be

in a new year, we still find ourselves

a concern for several months to come, but it is hoped that,

navigating through rough seas as

as we return to normal, the problems will ease and things will

the fallout of COVID-19 continues to

begin to level out in the spring.

wreak havoc on people’s lives and

Despite the current pressures, however, Darryl is confident

the world’s economies. The passage is especially turbulent

that Fellowes have put plans in place to weather the storm

on the trade routes from China and the Far East, where sea

and ensure stock levels are maintained to meet demand.

freight rates are at an all-time high.

‘’Our supply chain is very well-connected - especially across

There’s no doubt that the catalyst of the problem

Asia - which means, in these most challenging of times, we’ve

has been COVID-19 but the problem has been further

mostly been able to meet increased demand for products

compounded by several factors, ‘’Asia went into lockdown

such as shredders, laptop risers, air purifiers, cleaning

in February, resulting in blanket factory closures and a

products and other homeworking essentials. We’ve also been

subsequent drop in demand for container freight across all

extremely disciplined when forecasting sales and identifying

markets as the pandemic spread globally.

changing trends.

‘’To manage the expected decline in business, freight

‘’Equally important for our customers in these tough

carriers began to blank sailings, return leased containers and

times, we’ve continued to offer exceptional value for money.

cancel orders for new ones. But as lockdowns were eased

Wherever possible, we’ve resisted passing on increased costs

in Western markets, carriers were caught out by the rush in

that have been forced upon us and in some of our categories,

demand from importers looking to replenish exhausted stock,

such as autofeed shredding, we have lowered our prices.

governments in desperate need of hygiene supplies, and the added pressures created by grounded air freight operators.’’ Darryl also believes that the situation has been made

“As always, our focus is to bring value and innovation to the consumer which we believe is the best way to navigate these challenging times.”

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [17]



Mark Galliano, MD, Teknik Office

supply is limited, costs tend to increase – as a result,

2020 has been quite a year and has

the shipping lines are definitely taking advantage of the

caused a huge number of challenges

opportunity to repair their balance sheets and this is being

for many of us in the office furniture

reflected in the costs of sea containers. Where they are

community - and things don’t look

normally around $2000, they have been moving upwards to

like they are going to get any easier

$7000 - $8000 - with a possibility of exceeding $10,000 per

in the first part of 2021.

container over the coming months in the lead-up to Chinese

At the start of the pandemic

New Year and, if the pressure on the flow of goods doesn’t

none of us knew what was about to

ease, this could continue into the second quarter/mid-year

unfold; I, for one, thought that sales would fall off a cliff and

(gulp…or beyond). There are also other factors - like peak

we would need to hunker down until the storm blew over.

season surcharges and congestion costs - on top of the sea

As it turned out, the exact opposite is true; sales rocketed,

freight rates increases.

and demand for a broad range of products escalated. In

If you take a simple calculation of say, 350 items on a

normal conditions this would be a cause to celebrate, but the

container (an executive mesh chair, for example) you can see

backdrop means that there is a hangover waiting in the wings.

the cost impact on the individual product escalates from $6

International shipping lines have, over the last couple

up to $23 with the possibility of it moving to $29, which is

of years, been removing vessels from circulation to try and

simply too much to absorb within normal costing models,

mitigate losses being caused by a reduction in demand, and

so there will inevitably be increases that the supply chain

continued to do so at the beginning of the pandemic as

(importer/wholesalers, dealers/retailers) will need to feed

various parts the world progressively went into lockdowns.

through to the consumer.

However, what was actually happening was a huge bottleneck

Another consideration in relation to furniture items is

growing in China, caused by the temporary closure of

that the container loading efficiency isn’t always great. The

factories and the enormous pent-up demand for WFH and

350 chairs in our example would be mid-range items with a

PPE products. We have all been playing catch-up with stock

mid-range price point, meaning that the increased shipping

during the second half of 2020… which brings us to where we

costs as a percentage of the trade price is very high; a

are now, and the latest challenge we face.

container of very small, high value, items probably wouldn’t

Each year, from July onwards, all importers work towards

create such a big problem, so other importers may see the

building their stock levels to cover increasing demands over

‘problem’ differently. We can only speak from our perspective;

Christmas and the subsequent production hiatus caused by

our competitors will, no doubt, be grappling with the same

Chinese New Year in February (annual factory closedown) so,


on top of the pressure created by the lockdowns, Far Eastern

We expect costs to increase at this time of year, but they

production facilities have been swamped to a level never seen

are normally within predictable levels and for a predictable

before. We have been battling with raw material shortages

period of time, so they can be anticipated and factored into

and production delays and now find ourselves jostling for

our prices to give stability to our retailers – but these are not

space on vessels in the Far East.

normal times and are certainly not normal increases. Hopefully,

This is where the problem is growing from. As usual with the forces of supply and demand, where

[18] JANUARY 2021


the backlogs will clear and the costs will soften soon. We all hope they will, but I wouldn’t bet my house on it!



Make 2021 a Year to Remember with VOW ADVENTURE


OW Wholesale’s half one incentive, VOW ADVENTURE, is back for 2021 and is

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In order to win, all resellers need to do is drive sales of the amazing supporting brands between 1st January and 30th June 2021. At the end of each month, the customer that

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www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [19]



What impact will wholesaler changes have on the dealer channel? In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, at the beginning of 2020 Office Power launched a research programme to try and continually assess the impact that the crisis would have on the macro economy and our specific industry - this included looking at the impact of wholesaler changes


he second question in the report


focused on the impact of the changes

The highest area of perceived impact is distribution and

seen in the wholesaler channel on

delivery services, with 55% of respondents of the opinion that

dealer businesses. Five key areas

a significant or severe impact is likely. This is unsurprising as we

were assessed. Respondents felt that

have already seen significant challenges in supply chain and

all of the key areas were a concern,

distribution as a result of COVID-19. The questions arising are:

with delivery and cost of goods sold (COGS) perceived to

• Will delivery/distribution costs increase over time?

present the highest risk.

• Will wholesalers return to a radial delivery model?

Changing distribution/delivery services – how concerned are we about service levels being impacted to dealers and their

Wholesalers suspended their radial delivery services as the UK


entered lockdown in March and it is difficult to predict when and

• Increase in COGS – will there be a material ongoing change to COGS given the shift in wholesaler base? • Product range and availability – will there be long-term

whether this area of service will return to normal. Historically, despite the high cost to wholesalers, radial delivery services have always been subsidised, meaning dealers had become used

changes to the products on offer and how available they are

to this quality and flexibility of service. The difficulties facing

to purchase?

wholesalers and distributors will continue, and this will require

• Credit limits and payment terms – will credit be harder to secure, and will payment terms become less favourable? • Provision of value-added services (eg. marketing) - will

dealers to rethink service levels and the delivery proposition they offer their customers. There have been signs of recovery in the UK economy

there be a reduction in these additional activities and their

since the initial lockdown, albeit slower than hoped for, and


the change in demand patterns has exposed challenges in

[20] JANUARY 2021




form the core of the solution to this. Dealers should implement flexible delivery charges for different customers and different

Cash management will play a significant role in all businesses as the economy recovers slowly

delivery services; this will prove to be a proactive mechanism for recovering delivery charges. With the market and wholesaler base so unpredictable taking control and forming a combined strategy will be key to maintaining profitable distribution. INCREASE IN COST OF GOODS SOLD (COGS) The Porters 5 Forces model is often used to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of an industrial sector by considering the balance of five competitive forces which prevail in all

operating processes and distribution channels. Due to this

industries: suppliers, buyers, threat of substitutes, threat of new

depression in demand previously configured distribution routes

entrants and industry rivalry (competition).

are no longer viable and this will almost certainly lead to an

The balance of these forces has steadily shifted in the office

increase in costs. This will be compounded by the fact that

supplies sector for the past 10-15 years; however, this shift has

dealer customer bases are fragmenting and shrinking, so dealers

accelerated dramatically over the past few months. This has

will need to think about how they can provide a cost-effective,

been predominantly caused by the collapse of Spicers, and has

last mile delivery service. Average order size (AOS) is key to

driven the increase in supplier power, compared to buyer power,

trying to counter this challenge as driving up this critical metric

due to there simply being fewer wholesalers available.

will, in turn, reduce the proportional cost of deliveries. Ensuring

This has, rightly, caused concern in the dealer base and

customers purchase more items per transaction can be achieved

is reflected strongly in the results of the survey, with a swing

through merchandising, promotional and marketing activities

towards there being a significant impact. The increased relative

and effectively packaging up product in bulk. Driving online

power of wholesalers could lead to some longer-term cost price

ordering will also help this as typically AOS is higher when the

inflation, particularly when increasing cost-to-serve will need to

customer orders themselves.

be recouped. A simple and effective fix is to ensure that terms

There is also the opportunity to implement varied delivery charging. The customer segmentation described earlier will

with suppliers include protection against price inflation. It is also worth considering that buying power comes from the size of

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [21]



the buyers, so we may see an increase in the importance of

effects. Vendors and manufacturers will also be studying credit to

‘buying groups’ to improve leverage. However, it is anticipated

wholesalers/distributors, given the creditor fall out following the

that, until the variety of options in the wholesaler channel

collapse of Spicers.

improves, this leverage will still be compromised.

Therefore, cash management will play a significant role in all businesses as the economy recovers slowly; suppliers


will be looking at all options to reduce their working capital

Product range and availability has proven to be a significant

requirements. This could lead to a tightening of payment terms

cause for concern for dealers so far and does not show signs of

with dealers. Unfortunately, therefore, a significant rise in dealer

dramatically improving any time soon. The survey results showed

failures has been seen - and will continue to be seen - along with

a leaning towards moderate/significant impact. It would be fair

widespread mergers and acquisitions.

to assume that it may be even worse, given the consistent issues apparent over the past months. The issues here have been that the remaining wholesalers have been unable to effectively forecast demand, and open

This is one of the key battlegrounds, and ensuring there is contractual comfort in relationships with suppliers is the main mechanism which must be employed to counter this threat to cashflow and, ultimately, business survival.

supply chains effectively, in light of additional COVID-secure working regulations. Shifting customer needs in relation to


product have not helped this, and the supply chain has not

Again, there was an interestingly lower concern over the

yet settled into being able to provide the necessary product

potential reduction in the provision of value-added services,

in the right quantities at the right time. The enormous swing

such as marketing. This may be due to the fact that dealers did

towards the need for new product ranges - such as PPE

not attribute a huge amount of value to these services before

and home computing - has meant that manufacturers were

the pandemic and, therefore, there is reduced concern over this

unable to maintain supply and even previously stable product

continuing into the future.

categories, such as ink and toner, have simply been unable to find the new balance. Diversification of purchase routes is also vital, where possible.

Value-added services provided both by wholesalers and dealer groups are likely to come under scrutiny as dealers review their cash outgoings. VOW consistently state that they

There are often multiple options for where products can be

will only support dealer groups that they believe add value,

sourced from so investigating and implementing supply of key

and not just aggregate pricing. If these services, provided by

products from multiple wholesalers or distributors is one way to

wholesalers and dealer groups, are perceived to be value-

mitigate the risk of stock fluctuations.

adding to dealers, it is important to constantly re-assess this value to maintain a strong return on investment; if this is


difficult to measure then that in itself could be indication of

Survey respondents considered the overall risk of a negative

the ‘real’ commercial impact.

impact on credit limits/payment terms with wholesalers to be

There is, overall, significant concern around how dealers

moderate, with 20% considering there to be no, or insignificant,

can respond to the threat that changes to the wholesaler

impact. This is interesting considering this could prove a

environment have brought. However, there are ways to counter

significant cause for concern.

this threat to business performance by understanding the

Firstly, credit insurers have significantly reduced limits on the office supplies sector, which will, inevitably, lead to knock-on

[22] JANUARY 2021


challenges, learning from others in the dealer community and forming and implementing a proactive strategy.



AT YOUR SERVICE Ace Office Environments’ sales director KEITH BOULTER has seen a myriad of changes during his 43 years in the office supplies industry, but one fundamental hasn’t changed – that customer relationships are at the heart of everything he does

lot has changed in


the world since 1977, but one thing that hasn’t is Keith Boulter working in the office supplies sector. The

industry veteran started out as a youngster working for New Milton-based Murrays. “I learnt the trade,” he says. “I started in the warehouse and then moved into the office doing invoicing and admin. Next I went onto the ‘phones, and did a bit on the retail side – the company had a retail shop as well. I did the whole thing but, when I joined, I always wanted to go out selling, and I got to do that within a couple of years. I have been doing it ever since.” Ace Office bought up its local rival Murrays in 1992; Keith moved with the company and has been there ever since. “Many clients have been with me and the business for 30-plus years, which I pride myself on because they are friends as well as businesses these days.” Keith puts his longevity in the sector

[24] JANUARY 2021




the latest plans. It’s about keeping up that

I have always had the same mindset; if you lose it you have to go find more

contact.” EVOLVE TO SURVIVE However, while fundamentals like that don’t change, the business has evolved in other ways. “The company has diversified - if it hadn’t, it wouldn’t be here today, like a lot of

down to his willingness to embrace change

businesses sadly aren’t. We have added other

when it comes along. “If you don’t, those

areas to the business and acquired businesses

opportunities aren’t going to be there – the

that add to our portfolio.”

only way to guarantee an opportunity is to

One of the areas the company has

embrace change and go with it. Change is

diversified into in recent years is safetywear

often a good thing, and it’s probably why

and personal protective equipment (PPE).

I’m still here; I have never wanted to look

This proved crucial when the COVID-19

outside the industry.”

pandemic hit last year. “We had already

His passion to go out and sell is still

established supply routes for a lot of the

there too – and if it ever does go, then that is

products that have been critical for clients

probably when he will call it a day. “I’ve done

throughout the year.

43 years. I’m not sure I’ll get to 50 – although

“For example, we had a large client with

state pension says ‘Yes’! I know there will be

1,300 retirement developments across the

lots of other changes between now and then.”

country and their responsibility was keeping

However, one thing that doesn’t change

their managers and residents safe within

is the importance of customer service -

those developments. Supply in that sort of

something that Ace Office , which supplies

volume was difficult, but we successfully

a range of office equipment and furniture,

turned 1,300 PPE packs around in about

has held at its core since the company was

six days - and that was in the early says of

founded in 1963 by Sam Emberton.

lockdown, when everything was a bit scary

Adrian Carter is the managing director now, the third generation of the family

for everyone. “The company is very proud of the way

to run the business. “It is very much still

the team worked to achieve that to a tight

a family-run business,” says Keith. “The


foundation of the business was always based on personal customer service; those


foundations have never changed, and is part

The company has also actively been looking

of the reason why we are still successful.

for framework opportunities. Keith says

Looking back at 2020, this philosophy has

that Ace Office had traditionally provided

become more critical than ever.

supplies to local councils, but that work

“You absolutely need to pick up the

scaled down about a decade ago when

‘phone now as you are not getting the regular contact you were six-to-12 months ago; you need to keep in contact in different ways. Sometimes it’s just dropping clients a line. I have clients working at home and I will drop them an email to just make sure they are

Sadly, we have been overlooked a little bit as an industry

happy with everything, and that they know

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [25]



responsibility policies, and this is something

What the new model will look like in 2021, nobody truly knows

ingrained in Ace Office’s Supplies’ culture. For example, long-established community radio station Hope FM had a problem 18 months ago – they were about to lose their broadcasting base, and they reached out to Ace Office’s managing director.

many councils started to adopt established

“Our MD generously donated our

framework agreements. “We, sadly, missed

boardroom, of all places, to them as free space

out; we didn’t get the opportunity to tender,

so they could set their studio up. They have

and we lost quite a fair chunk of business,

been broadcasting there since January 2020.”

but I’m sure we weren’t alone in that.” This just served to redouble Keith and

Ace Office also take their environmental concerns seriously too. Keith says two of his

his team’s determination to go out and

sales team drive full electric vehicles while

replace that business. “I have always had

others, including himself, use plug-in hybrid

the same mindset; if you lose it you have to

vehicles to help reduce CO2 emissions in the

go find more - it makes you a little bit more

area. In addition, all cardboard packaging

determined and focused.”

used by Ace Office is recycled.

While the lost business was replaced, it became clear that to get any government


work on a national or regional basis, Ace

Looking forward, one of Ace Office’s key

Office had to get onto a framework. The

objectives for 2021 is to help clients to create

opportunity came in October 2019 when the

safer working spaces, whether they are in

Crown Commercial Services Office Suppliers

the office or at home. “Home working is

Tender was issued. There were three strands

definitely going to change what we do,” says

within their framework - a direct award for

Keith. “We, like a lot of our competitors, have

office supplies, a direct award for electronic

solutions in place today; communicating this

supplies, and a framework that had a

to your client base is key - and there are other

selection of suppliers that could submit

opportunities as well.”

additional tenders for work, or receive direct

What customers buy has changed too.

awards - Ace Office tendered for this one.

While things like coffee and janitorial supplies

“We spent a lot of time and effort on this

were big sellers in 2019, this wasn’t the case in

and, in March, we were awarded a place on

2020; they were replaced with hand sanitiser,

it,” Keith says.

face masks and such like. “What the new

“There is a lot of hard work in this, and

model will look like in 2021, nobody truly

it’s going to take time to build. Each tender

knows,” Keith muses, “but you have to be

we do we are learning, and we’ve had a little

positive about it. I think the industry has

bit of success already, which is great. We

done exceptional jobs for people around PPE

expect next year to be much more focused

and keeping people safe through this. Sadly,

on this.”

we have been overlooked a little bit as an industry, but we have done a critical job for a lot of people to keep them safe.

GIVING BACK One factor that is increasingly considered in tenders is a company’s corporate social

[26] JANUARY 2021


“Hopefully, clients will remember what we have been doing.”



FORTY YEARS OF EVOLUTION Lex Business Equipment celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2020. The company has changed out of all recognition since its early days – but that evolution has helped to keep it as a leader in the sector


n 1980 Wayne

the business would be one of the North of

clients, and a true testament to this is that

Elphick set up a

England’s biggest office products suppliers.

we still support several clients that have been

business above a shop

“We are immensely proud to reach

with us since 1980.  

in Haslingden in

four decades in business - but building a

Lancashire repairing

successful business isn’t about achieving

business, developing and training staff,

“It is also about re-investing into the

and maintaining

success quickly,” says Wayne’s son Sam

and being adaptive to changes. We’ve had a

typewriters and cash registers for local

Elphick, sales director of Lex Business

number of obstacles in our way throughout

businesses, retailers and food/drink

Equipment. “I feel we have built success

the past 40 years - whether it be recessions,

establishments, such as Thwaites. At the

that has and will last, driven by offering an

or even now with a pandemic – but by

time, he little thought that, 40 years’ later,

honest and impeccable level of service to our

dealing with these, calmly and tactically,

[28] JANUARY 2021




deliver as promised, this division of our

We invested in online ordering platforms and this division of our business now amounts to around 40% of total annual sales

business now amounts to around 40% of total annual sales.” FAMILY BUSINESS This move came soon after Sam had joined the business after completing his A-levels. “I

we have been able to remain as one of the

the business’ principal location - with an

joined initially for a year to see what it was

leading and longest-established dealers in

impressive product showroom, workshop

like to work for the family business; I was

office technology in the North of England.”  

and warehouse, as well as a floor of office

then to decide whether to go to my deferred

suites for its staff,” says Sam.

university place to study law, or to carry on


“After this the company concentrated

at Lex. I decided to carry on,” says Sam.

Wayne had built up a wealth of experience

on providing reprographic equipment to

and contacts in the industry, working for

schools and businesses - in particular, the

for 12 years and have experience working

many years for Olivetti UK as a technical

Mita and Sharp ranges of equipment, which

in every department. I began working as

manager before he struck out on his own.

advanced to the first colour photocopier

a photocopier engineer, and passed my

Since then, he has remained at the head of

in 2000. With manufacturer-trained

training for this, after which I worked in the

the business and has driven it forward to

engineers, and a rapidly growing customer

office, covering a maternity absence in our

become the success it is today.

base, we took on new manufacturers as the

accounts department, and learnt that role,

copier landscape changed and technology

finally finding my feet in sales and business


development. For five years I have proudly

The development of Lex was steady in the early days, with a first major turning point coming in 1983, when

“I have now been with the business

held the role of sales director, which comes

Lex began selling Olivetti Linea 98


with great responsibility – but is a great

typewriters, designed by Olivetti in Italy.

Lex has always grown organically over the

challenge. I strive for ambitious targets,

“The typewriters featured a QWERTY

past 40 years, but it has also had to weather

and love the relationships I have with our

keyboard, and were extremely popular with

some big economic recessions, when


professional services firms across the local

customers simply didn’t have the budgets to

area,” says Sam.

purchase new printing or IT equipment for


their businesses.

Sam and his sales team were severely

“Our product offering developed into supplying computer equipment and the

It was during the recession of 2008,

tested by COVID-19 last year. “Business

first major contract win for Lex – to supply

when Lex’s sales had plateaued, that it was

started strong in January 2020, with a good

Preston Polytechnic College with 240 of

decided the company needed to diversify to

order book secured – however, as the term

the first portable computers. Lex was the

ensure it had a continuous revenue stream.

‘COVID’ crept up more and more, and

exclusive reseller of the Amstrad PC - which

“After looking at our customer base it made

countries across Europe were beginning

was a hugely popular product during the

sense to begin the sale of office stationery

lockdowns, it was important for us to

time for both education and businesses.”

– 16,000 products – office furniture and

ensure all installations of equipment were

printed stationery such as letterheads,”

completed ASAP. We finished our last

were needed so, in 1989, Lex purchased and

says Sam. “We invested in online ordering

big installation of departmental printing

reconfigured a row of four terraced houses

platforms and, once customers trusted that

in Radcliffe, Bury – from where the company

our pricing was competitive, and we could

As the business grew, new premises

still operates today. “After construction works were complete ‘Systems House’ was

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [29]



equipment a day or two before we were placed into the strict national lockdown. “Thereafter, I am sure like many other businesses in our industry, we survived on our monthly meter revenue from those businesses still operating. We acted fast to secure stocks of laptops which were in high demand at the time, and other home working essentials such as webcams, as well as home office furniture – all of which we could deliver on a next-day basis, safely by courier. “On the office supplies side of the business, we were inundated with enquiries for janitorial products such as sanitisation, virucidal and cleaning products – as well as dispensers and other COVID essentials. We supplied the likes of Bank of New York, Vauxhall and many FTSE500 companies, as well as large retail chains during this time. It truly was a blessing during such a worrying

Providing we keep our competitive edge, and remain technologically relevant to our clients, I remain positive

time – most new customers that found us via Google, which we have now built great relationships with.” However, COVID doesn’t mean that the sorts of products Lex sells has changed markedly. “During COVID we supplied everything from protective screens to

“We were curious as to whether

industry landscape with regard to the

social distancing mats, and sanitiser to

the homeworking over the summer

way that people work - but providing we

face masks,” says Sam. “However, after the

might deter firms from investing in new

keep our competitive edge, and remain

lockdowns lifted and business life went

printing hardware, but our demand for

technologically relevant to our clients, I

back to normal – or as normal as possible –

these products has remained consistent -

remain positive,” he says. “We are fortunate

we began supplying our usual products and

especially as the Lexmark devices - which

to be partners with manufacturers which

solutions again.

seem very popular - feature apps that allow

revolutionise the pathway of print hardware

for cloud printing etc, as well as other

with new advances and solutions which are

features which compliment agile working.”

like music to IT directors’ ears!”


to support businesses, schools and

Looking ahead, while the business landscape

organisations as much as possible during

remains uncertain thanks to COVID and the

these uncertain times. “To do so we need to

new English national lockdown announced

be nimble with our product offering – as last

on 4 January, Sam is, nonetheless, confident

summer demonstrated! We have taken time

that Lex and the wider sector will thrive in

to research and develop our product lines to

the future.

include products which are predicted to be

Sam adds that Lex’s aim is to continue

“I have confidence that it will

[30] JANUARY 2021


popular this year, which will support an agile

remain buoyant. As with any industry

and distributed workforce, as well as device

there is competition – changes in the

as a service (DaaS).”

Can you give your customers big business benefits for a small price?

Xerox® VersaLink® family of office printers. Big features. Small price. Built-in security. Offer a true differentiator to customers and new ongoing profitable revenue for you. xerox.co.uk/partners ©2019-2020 Xerox Corporation. All rights reserved. Xerox® and VersaLink® are trademarks of Xerox Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.



WASTE NOT Reducing plastic and paper waste has become a more urgent priority for office supplies manufacturers in recent years. As government implements tough targets for reducing packaging, and increasing recycling, the industry is coming up with innovative solutions to the problem


oncerns over the environmental effect

(90%). Thus,this is a significant concern that dealers should

of plastic packaging waste have been

look to address when offering suitable recommendations to

growing for years, and the government is

their customers seeking products that form part of a circular

now taking the problem seriously. In 2018,


under then prime minister Theresa May, the government revealed its strategic

“Modern advances in plastic manufacturing technologies across the industry have helped offset the costs involved in

ambition to ‘…work towards all plastic packaging placed on

related production developments - something which many

the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by

suppliers would’ve found more prohibitive in the not-too-

2025.’ This supported other commitments to improve the

distant past. Additionally, the use of alternative packaging

environment in the coming years, including an ‘ambition’ of

materials, such as Kraft paper and card from sustainable

zero avoidable waste by 2050 and a ‘target’ of eliminating

forestry sources, is becoming an increasingly common

avoidable plastic waste by end of 2042.


The UK government’s December 2018 Resources and

According to Lawrence,the environment has always been

Waste Strategy contained several polices aimed at reducing

a consideration at ExaClair. “By utilising our production

plastic waste, including a plastic packaging tax, which is set to

operations, we are continuing to develop new innovations

begin in 2022. This, along with growing consumer awareness

within our product design and manufacturing processes. Many

of the effects of plastic and other forms of waste on the

of our product ranges already adhere to strict environmental

environment, is driving demand for new packaging solutions.

accreditations, such as FSC, PEFC and the Blue Angel label,

“With an estimated 400 million tonnes of plastic waste

which focus on areas of sustainability and the use of recycled

being generated worldwide every year, a third of which

materials, including plastic waste.” He adds that ExaClair has

is packaging, the demand for offering more sustainable

a growing range of climate neutral and recycled products and

solutions is intensifying as end users are becoming

are also developing a new range of zero plastic filing for 2021.

increasingly aware of future ecological impacts,” Lawrence Savage, marketing manager at ExaClair Ltd, notes. Lawrence adds that working from home is also driving

HOLISTIC VIEW For Dr Liz Wilks, EU director, sustainability, and stakeholder at

this. “In a recent IPSOS survey 75% of UK remote workers

APP, packaging and materials need to be viewed holistically.

highlighted their preference for having a home office

“With plastic, you can extract it from the earth responsibly, but

environment that features eco-friendly credentials as being an

you can’t get away from the fact it cannot be replaced,” she

important, to very important, factor, second only to comfort

says. “You can have biodegradable plastics that can be

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [33]



repurposed as pellets, and put back into the system, but

such as corrugated boxes – saving time, energy, space and,

you have to do something fundamental to ensure it doesn’t

in some cases, around 35% in postal costs,” says Mirella

end up in the ocean and other [places] because there are

Andriano, portfolio manager at Sealed Air.

implications of how it will biodegrade. “But if you want a global supply chain, sometimes

To help ensure its products are recycled, consumers are given clear recycling instructions on the back of each Sealed

you have to use plastics and you have to weigh up the

Air Brand Mail Lite envelope. “We’re extremely proud to

functionality of what you are trying to do with what you

be setting the benchmark for environmentally-responsible

are using. With paper, it is a renewable resource, it is well-

mailers that are designed for recycling,” adds Mirella.

managed sustainably in the way it is grown and replaced and is an infinite resource. “Paper can also be recycled and repurposed seven times

CUTTING PLASTIC USE Meanwhile other companies are concerned with cutting their

- from virgin paper right through to packaging - so it has a

use of plastic packaging and single-use plastics, although

longer product extension through different purposes. Even

concerns around COVID-19, coupled with the immediate

at the end, cardboard can be used for artwork and lots of

need for businesses to get orders out of the door quickly,

different things.

has seen this issue take a back seat in the past nine months,

“However, in terms of packaging if you don’t need it, then don’t have it. The first thing is to reduce it if it is not essential; but if it is a key part of the functionality of the product then

according to paper and packaging solutions provider Antalis’ head of business development, John Garner. “It’s been a case of act now, worry about the fallout later,”

paper packaging is one of the easiest options as you don’t

he says. “2021 is the time for businesses, and the public, to

have to transform the supply chain. Plastics do have their

refocus on this very important issue. While a lot of businesses

place; their life can be extended,and there needs to be

have shifted from plastic to paper packaging, other non-

innovative solutions to reuse and repurpose materials that are

wood fibre sources need to be found to support the transition

already in circulation.”

away from plastics. At Antalis, we’re working on a number of projects to see how we can develop packaging products

BECOMING MORE SUSTAINABLE This desire to be more sustainable is driving innovation and

made from sustainable sources. “We are continuously working on reducing our own

change in the industry. For example, packaging company

environment impact as a business, as well as helping our

Sealed Air announced in October 2018 its sustainability and

customers to minimise theirs. Using the services of our Smart

plastics pledge to design and advance its packaging solutions

Packaging Centre we can carry out a review of any packaging

to be 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025. The company

operation and create solutions to improve sustainability for

pledged to accelerate its use of recycled materials, expand

any business.”

reuse models for packaging and collaborate with partners worldwide to ensure execution. As part of Sealed Air’s drive to meet this pledge the

TAX PREPARATION Antalis is also busy preparing for the plastic packaging tax,

company has launched a new range of Sealed Air brand Mail

John adds. “It’s something that will need to be accelerated

Lite mailers. These contain more recycled content than any

over the next 12 months with the new plastic packaging tax

similar product on the market, according to the company.

scheduled to be implemented in April 2022.”

The outer paper sleeve comprises FSC certified, non-coated

The new tax will see manufacturers and importers paying

Kraft paper from responsible forestry, while the inner Sealed

£200 per tonne on packaging materials made from less

Air brand AirCap bubble liner contains a minimum of 60%

than 30% recycled plastic. John says that, for many Antalis

recycled material. Furthermore, the inner liner can be

customers, packaging film is one of the biggest contributors

detached from the outer bubble sleeve, and each component

to their plastic waste so the company is looking at ways to

can then be separately reused or recycled in the appropriate

help them reduce this through achieving better yields - plus,

waste stream.

Antalis will be continuing its research into other options.

“With e-commerce on the rise, people are increasingly choosing to use mailers over larger packaging alternatives

[34] JANUARY 2021


“We’re currently looking at a solution using recycled film, for example,” he says.

Pilot launches... the writing instruments brand takes a step forward with an initiative that will contribute to fight against plastic pollution. PILOT, is proud to launch into the European market a complete range of pens containing reclaimed ocean plastic, collected from marine environments*. “The problem of plastic in our oceans and on our shores is a worldwide concern. Fighting against plastic pollution is essential and for this reason, we are happy to partner with TerraCycle to create a unique range of pens which contains reclaimed ocean plastic material*”, said Fumio FUJISAKI, CEO and Urban MARTELL, VP Sales & Marketing, of PILOT COROPORATION OF EUROPE. From 2021, the iconic B2P Gel pen will contain ocean plastic within its 89%** of recycled plastic bottles, already used in its composition. And end of January, PILOT will enlarge the B2P range with a newcomer; B2P ECOBALL. A ballpoint pen made of 86%** of recycled post-consumer plastic bottles, including ocean plastic*, with a minimum quantity of colorant additives, and refillable. The B2P pens are a part of the BEGREEN range, the first range of sustainable writing instruments, launched by PILOT in 2006. Made of at least 70% of recycled plastic and refillable, the Begreen pens allow to each of us to save up to 95% of CO2, thanks to the use of recycled plastic, and as soon as the pen is refilled 3 times!

With this initiative, PILOT adds a new R - Recuperating, less plastic in the oceans to reduce pollution - to its sustainable approach, that can be summed up in 4 words: DO BETTER WITH LESS, and that is embodied by its 3-R policy;


less waste going to landfills, to turn old into new, by using recycled plastic material to manufacture our pens.


less disposable to extend life duration, by making 63% of our ranges refillable to reduce landfilling.


less plastic to reduce waste, by using preferably recycled carton material in our packaging. And because sustainability is a part of our DNA, this initiative will concern other markets out of Europe, starting by Japan, the country of origin of PILOT. This initiative is not the final stage of a long journey initiated more than 10 years ago for producing eco-designed pens, contributing to reduce the impact of our products on the Planet, but the starting point of a larger program with concrete initiatives to act against pollution, which will be announced in the coming months.

* from oceans, beaches, rivers, lakes and the banks of those waterways. ** excluding replaceable parts.

PILOT GREEN PACKS the trash can wait! Refilling your pen rather than the bin is now much easier with the PILOT GREEN PACKS Convenient sets of either 10 or 12 pens made from recycled materials with additional refills. At Pilot, we do not expect you to throw away your pen just because you have used up all of the ink, and we encourage the use of refills. Using a refill when the ink runs out, rather than a new pen will extend the products life and further reduce the amount of plactic which would otherwise prematurely go to landfill.

CO2 facts

Using refillable pens and PILOT GREEN PACKS can also help reduce “greenhouse gases” because manufacturing an entire pen produces more CO2 than just the refill components. From the manufacturing through to the end of the product life, it is estimated that using all of the pens and the refills in a PILOT GREEN PACK gives the following cumulative CO2 savings (compared to using the equivalent number of new pens and not refilling them): • B2P GREEN PACK -69% CO2 • G2 GREEN PACK -71% CO2 • V7 CARTRIDGE SYSTEM -81% CO2 • V-BOARD MASTER -75% CO2



Getting connected

[36] JANUARY 2021




Increasing numbers of office supplies customers are making their purchases via websites which means that, for dealers, having an effective online sales and marketing strategy is more important than ever before


he COVID-19

their online strategies carefully, ensuring

pandemic has

they have clear outcomes in mind; they

changed how many

must commit to providing content for

businesses work –

customers at an individual level through a

for example, through

variety of channels.

widespread working from home – and many of these changes


are set to be here for the long-term, even

Engagement with customers will be key

after the pandemic has ended.

if dealers are to be successful in their

Home working being more

Engagement with customers will be key if dealers are to be successful in their strategies

strategies. For instance Robert Harper,

commonplace has also changed how many

marketing director at ERP software

businesses purchase office supplies; instead

solutions provider Prima Software, says

assist customers in locating what they

of the traditional norm of supplies being

that customer experience has never been

need, providing upsell opportunities and

bought in bulk and sent to an office to then

of greater importance when it comes to

answering customers’ questions before they

be distributed to employees, it is becoming

c-commerce. “One of the most significant

become hesitations,” he says. “Ultimately,

increasingly common that individual

changes that occurred in 2020 was that

adding the personal human interaction to

employees are buying their own supplies and

customers’ working setup changed,” he says.

your webstore that your customer is used to.”

charging the cost back to the business.

“Working from home has become the new

With many businesses working in

normal and, while we anticipate returning


this ‘new normal’ way, dealers’ sales and

to what we know as the old normal, our

Robert adds that email marketing proved

marketing strategies have to adapt to ensure

customers’ new working environments may

to be one of the key essential channels for

that existing customers are kept engaged

well be here to stay.”

businesses to attract and retain customers in

with the company and its products and new

He adds that this is the reason why

customers are enticed to the business to

it is that essential dealers provide their

ensure that sales are maximised.

customers with an intuitive, easy-to-use and

Dealers will have to harness the internet

2020. “According to a survey carried

feature-rich online ordering platform that

and social media effectively in order to

includes the latest in communication tools.

gain new and retain existing customers. No

“A live chat facility enables you to quickly

longer will generic posts on sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn be enough as consumers - especially younger ones - are increasingly digitally savvy and will look elsewhere for products quickly if they do not find what they want, or feel valued by the dealer. So dealers will have to consider

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [37]



emailing campaigns,” he says. “Campus is

Using chatbots is growing in popularity

another option that can work well for the

maximise their customer communications. “An increasing number of businesses

educational sector, while Dreamweaver may

are integrating customer relationship

offer a more sophisticated solution for those

management systems, such as Saleforce, in

who have slightly higher HTML skills.”

an attempt to collate and organise customer data. Enriching effective product content


throughout various distribution channels is

Lawrence adds that, with an increasing

also imperative, and service providers like

out by McKinsey and Company, email

amount of people adopting a more

FushionPlus Data are ideal for ensuring this.

marketing is 40 times more effective than

nomadic working lifestyle, a growing

social media,” he says. “Customer offers,

number of dealers have been seeking to

popularity; a report from Juniper Research

competitions, recommended products

develop their communication channels

predicts that retail spend through these

and voucher codes are just some of the

when reaching out to their customer base.

online chat apps will reach $142 billion by

approaches to drive traffic to your webstore.

“They recognise the importance of going

2024, representing an average annual growth

beyond the sales methods usually deployed

of 400% since 2019.”

“While effective, there’s no denying

“Using chatbots is also growing in

that creating and monitoring an email

in the traditional bricks and mortar store

marketing campaign can be time-

environment,” he says. “Additionally, finding

giving careful consideration before choosing

consuming. Therefore, automation is

new customers can be more difficult under

an option to use. “With so many solutions

tremendously advantageous when running

these circumstances, so the significance of

available, it’s essential to explore all options

your campaigns. It’s imperative that your

strengthening relationships with, and the

that best suit your requirements and budget

ERP system can integrate directly with

loyalty of, existing customers is magnified

before committing.”

your email marketing platform, enabling

during these times.

you to efficiently manage mailing lists and campaigns and to monitor success rates.” Lawrence Savage, marketing manager

“The key to this is focusing on the interactive and personalised elements for customers when implementing these

at ExaClair, a manufacturer and wholesale

alternative methods. In addition to

distributor of stationery, agrees that email

ecommerce sites, there are a wide variety

marketing can be effective – and also agrees

of tools available that can help dealers

that it should be digitised. “Platforms like Trello or Hootsuite can be useful for managing and scheduling online collateral, such as imagery or video content. Other software packages, such as Mailchimp and Eshot, can be used to produce effective

[38] JANUARY 2021


However, Lawrence also advocates



It’s good to talk The COVID-19 pandemic has meant office workers have used communications systems like video conferencing as never before – but what will 2021 bring to the comms party?


hile the news about the rollout of a vaccine for

Konftel’s regional sales director UK, Jeff May, revealed how high-

COVID-19 has been met with enthusiasm by

quality conferencing has become the de facto standard for business-

the UK public, and given hope that we may be

critical meetings, where ‘you only get one chance to make a good first

able to return to a more ‘normal’ way of living

impression’. “Even with a vaccine, the general consensus is that more

sometime in 2021, it seems that some people

flexible ways of working are here to stay,” he says. “It won’t go back to

do not want to go back to pre-coronavirus days

the way it was before. It’s forever.”

in terms of working practices. Some 11.8 million UK workers — 57% of people — do not want

The webinar’s ‘hybrid work environment’ presentation featured industry research from leading analysts, including Frost

to go back to a ‘normal way of working in an office environment with

and Sullivan. This showed that, prior to the crisis, 95% of people

normal office hours’, a recent survey of 2,000 employees by Theta

around the world were office-based, compared to just half during

Global Advisors found. It also reported that about 50% of employees

lockdown restrictions. Furthermore, over 30% of employees

said that working from home during the pandemic made them realise that they had a poor work-life balance before lockdown, and they do not want to return to this after it is over. There were similar findings at a recent webinar, from manufacturer Konftel, to help resellers and their customers adapt to a ‘seismic market change’. It was reported that business travel is likely

Quick fixes are not the answer. Get the basics right first

to take up to three years to reach pre-COVID levels; meanwhile, video and audio conferencing sales explode.

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [39]



indicated that they will continue to work from home in the future, a six-fold global increase from the beginning of 2020. “The pandemic has demolished traditional distance working barriers, and businesses have embraced a more open attitude which has seen us take a huge leap forward along the digital journey,” says Jeff. “The world of work may never go back to the way it was before, as more hybrid patterns emerge. It’s almost a revolution in our living and working life.”

The general consensus is that more flexible ways of working are here to stay. It won’t go back to the way it was before. It’s forever.

Jeff adds that other studies show that up to 70% of people want to continue working from home in some capacity. “Massive behavioural

“New ways of communication literally transformed people’s

change has taken place, with 91% of people globally saying they

lives - but, without the correct infrastructure and increased

use video when working from home. Cost-effective conferencing

knowledge to utilise additional features and functionality, not all

technology - that enables people to work as effectively as they do in

the benefits were achieved.

the office - is crucial.” Increased remote working, offices needing to adapt to more

“If you look at Office 365 in the education sector, it’s not always used to its full capacity. I think education and training has been

social distancing in meeting rooms and business travel dramatically

lacking in some areas. This year we are putting a big focus on this to

reducing, pushing meetings online, are some of the biggest current

enable more people to utilise the skills and tools that are already in

changes. “In the past we always wanted to get dressed up and make

place for them.

our best impression face-to-face - but that’s not possible anymore,”

“A lot of tools are available; it’s just that people don’t always know

adds Jeff. “Cameras have replaced suits, but we’ve still got to look and

how to use them. Big investment in technology can sometimes be

sound our best.

seen as a way to revolutionise and change the world overnight for

“Simple, easy-to-use, dual purpose, powerful and portable

an organisation. But the reality is often quite different because they

solutions, for the home as well as office, are the way forward; hybrid

have not had the proper training to maximise the full features. This

working is the way forward.”

happens too often; people need to see the bigger picture.” David believes that interactive touch screens in education


will continue to flourish in 2021, along with remote learning.

However, while communication systems may be increasingly

“Technology, ultimately, relies on good infrastructure - this needs to

important, they require the right infrastructure to ensure that they

be considered. It’s not just about the front-end equipment and the

can be utilised to their full potential.

bells and whistles; it’s what sits behind it.

“Last year saw an explosion of working from home, and even

“The whole UK infrastructure needs to be looked at. There’s a

learning from home, as the world adapted to the COVID crisis,”

massive amount of work to be done. In a simple way, it’s a bit like

says David Silous-Holt, managing director of Blue Orange, which

our transport network; throwing more cars on the road only adds to

specialises in IT support and hardware supply services to businesses,

problems if the infrastructure is not up to scratch. Quick fixes are not

schools and colleges across the country.

the answer. Get the basics right first.”

[40] JANUARY 2021


E: sales@ctstonersupplies.co.uk T: 01543 474920

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Compatibility test

Many businesses are increasingly concerned about their environmental footprint - one way to reduce this is to use compatible ink cartridges in their printers


or many businesses,

demonstrating their environmental

are still a regular order for many businesses

in a wide variety of

awareness by reducing their carbon footprint

from their office products supplier.

sectors, corporate

- doing things like using less packaging, and

social responsibility

recycling more.

is an increasingly

empty, it is often thrown away without a second thought and they generally end up

in offices is often overlooked – the humble

in landfill sites. Empty ink cartridges are

what they do – consumers are looking for

printer ink cartridge. While the ‘paperless

not recyclable and, therefore, can have a

companies that not only have good products

office’ was touted for many years, it has never

significant environmental impact, as Tony

or services but are also seen to do good as

come to pass; many documents still require

Speed, sales manager at Dynamic Cassette

well. Often, this takes the form of businesses

printing, which means that ink cartridges

International (DCI) - a manufacturer of

[42] JANUARY 2021

important part of

One way of reducing waste and recycling

However, once an ink cartridge is



remanufactured inkjets and toners based in Boston, Lincolnshire - explains. “In Europe 60% of empty toner and inkjet cartridges end up in landfill or being incinerated.” This equates to millions of cartridges ending up being thrown away each year; when you consider that to manufacture an original toner cartridge takes about 3.5 litres of oil, their environmental impact is clear to see. But it does not have to be this way; using compatible ink and toners – which use recycled cartridges – in printers can help to reduce waste and help to increase a business’


environmental benefits and value needs to

How can we continue to justify purchasing new, single use, products when an alternative exists?

environmental credentials.

be emphasised by dealers when talking to customers. While the outlook for businesses in many sectors is uncertain due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Tony says that he expects the market for remanufactured cartridges to continue to grow in 2021 and beyond. “The market share is 90% in favour of the OEM, so the opportunity always exists for the aftermarket to grow especially for the environmentally-focused remanufacturers and their brands.”

“How can we continue to justify purchasing new, single use, products when

33870 etc. The products are guaranteed


an alternative exists?” says Tony. “Opting

by the remanufacturer to aid consumer

One manufacturer that adheres to

for remanufactured cartridges supports the

confidence and mitigate any perceived

sustainable principles is Katun, according

reuse and recycling message, saves CO2

issues. The result will be a high quality,

to Kim Bryant, EAME marketing

emissions and natural resources such oil and

environmentally friendly and cost-

communications manager at the company.

aluminium that are part of the process to

effective alternative that delivers a lower

“We actively participate in the circular

make new cartridges. Also consider the three


economy by selling remanufactured or

litres of plastic required to produce each new

However, Tony warns resellers to check

refilled imaging supplies and machines that

toner cartridge and, if that new cartridge

carefully where their cartridges come from

provide our dealer and distributor customers

goes to landfill, it will take more than 500

– as that could negate the environmental

with high quality, cost-effective replacement

years to decompose.”

benefits of it. “I would recommend that

parts,” she says. “We pioneered the way by

any distributor, wholesaler or reseller in

introducing the refilled-OEM cartridge


the UK using a remanufactured cartridge

concept in 2008, and have gone on to

Tony says that, while the office products

researches the product origin in order

introduce several more versions for various

industry has faced challenges in 2020,

to confirm the exact location where the

applications - saving an abundance of plastic

the COVID-19 pandemic, and resulting

physical factory is based, and subsequent

waste from landfill. Katun also makes every

global supply chain issues, have provided

brands/products produced,” he says. “The

effort to offer eco-friendly options across

an opportunity for consumers to switch

true environmental benefits of using a

services and programmes to allow customers

to a non-original consumable. “Generally,

remanufactured cartridge are negligible

to make ‘green’ choices.

though, there is growing focus on the

if the product is coming from Africa or

environment and how we all can make

Asia due to the reserve logistics involved

are rigorously tested to ensure that their

green choices. This creates momentum

in the process, and the resulting additional

performance meets, or exceeds, that

against single use products, so an

carbon footprint in the supply chain. Local

of the OEM equivalent. Therefore, not

environmentally-friendly, remanufactured,

manufacturing results in local jobs, and

only do Katun products help protect the

cartridge is a viable choice,” he says.

revenue going back into the local economy

environment, there is also no compromise

– which equals circular economy ‘saving

on quality or service to the end-user.”

In order to be a viable and credible choice the remanufactured cartridges need to match, or exceed, the OEM page

resource, creating jobs’.” Of course, it isn’t just about reducing

“Katun’s remanufactured products

Kim adds that, in response to an increased demand for, and focus on,

yield and quality output, Tony adds.

carbon footprint – compatible ink is

sustainability from customers, Katun plans

“Most brands will be in line with the

often appreciably cheaper than its OEM

to expand its range of eco-friendly products

industry standards such as ISO19752, DIN

equivalent, and this combination of

and services in 2021.

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [43]



LIVE IT Life hack Anybody who eats boiled eggs knows the frustration of having one crack – but throwing a little vinegar into the boiling water will keep the egg whites from seeping out. The vinegar also eases the peeling process when you’re ready to eat them.


THUMBS UP Picture perfect As reported by BBC News, a wedding album that was lost for about 20 years has been reunited with its rightful owners after a woman found it in her loft. The pictures of Colin and Helena Hutt’s special day were found by Vi Shawyer in her Plymouth home. She then posted about it on a local Facebook group. The couple were reunited with the album after it was shared nearly 8,000 times. Mr Hutt said the couple, who have been married for 39 years, were “absolutely over the moon” to have the album returned.

Quote of the month “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly” – John F. Kennedy –

[44] JANUARY 2021



Did you know?



If you thought Meghan Markle’s wedding veil was long, read this! There’s a woman in Cyprus who set the Guinness World Record for the longest wedding veil. How long was it, you ask? Nearly 23,000 feet, which is the same length as about 63.5 football fields!


1. How many teeth does an adult human have? 2. What is the largest bird of prey in the world?

Dressing for the occasion Want to look good for a Zoom meeting, but don’t want to get too dressed up? A

4. Who is fifth in line to the British throne? 5. What is the biggest state in America? Answers: 1. 32 2. Andean Condor 3. Badminton 4. Prince Louis 5. Alaska

Knock me down with a feather

3. In which sport would you use a shuttlecock?

What a wonderful world

Japanese apparel company has brought a whole new meaning to the phrase

Prepare for blast off

‘smart-casual’ by creating a ‘pajamas

NASA has started assembling the first Space Launch System (SLS) rocket

suit’ that’s meant to resemble office

on a launch platform ahead of its maiden flight this year, according to BBC

attire but feel as snug as sleepwear,

News. The SLS is the giant rocket that will send US astronauts back to the

Reuters has reported. Aoki Holdings

moon this decade - with the first crewed landing targeted for 2024 - the

is marketing the navy, beige, black

rocket is scheduled to make its debut in November 2021. Engineers in

and dark grey suits for both men and

Florida have begun stacking the segments that make up the vehicle’s two

women as ‘more than pajamas and less

solid rocket boosters. The SLS consists of a giant, 65m (212ft) long core

than fashionable clothes’. Sold as suit

stage, with four engines flanked by the twin solid fuel boosters. Together,

separates, the jackets are knit cardigans

these produce a massive 8.8 million pounds (39.1 meganewtons) of thrust

and can be mixed and matched with

that can project astronauts into orbit; the rocket subsequently hurls them

elastic-waist trousers designed for

towards the moon.

sitting for long periods.

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [45]


F A T H E R P. C L I P

Bringing hope, peace and unity to the good brethren of the business supplies community

The good Father rings in the new year with yoga classes, breathalysers and, of course, a lot of Zooming! he start of the new

everyone motivated and still feeling part of

bought a breathalyser to test the staff at

year can be a strange

the team. We’ve started a yoga class every

home - and in the office. Some people in

time in the office

lunchtime run by our head of marketing

the village have said that the sight of her

products industry. The

and logistics and HR and purchasing and

parading around in her fishing waders and

holiday festivities have

warehousing, Mrs O’ Reilly. You can hear

gas mask with a breathalyser is too much

been and gone, we’ve

when her class has started because of the

to handle in these times, and have started

all put on a bit of weight and we begin to

squeals, groans and flatulence - but it’s worth

drinking because of it.

look forward to another exciting year of new

the noise to see everyone skipping around

Our buying and marketing group,

innovations and products to brighten up the

the office in a flexible manner. Some of the

Office Standoffish, have been having weekly

industry - only to end up disappointed when

guys are straddling their desks and using the

Zoom calls with all of the group members.

customers refuse to buy any of them, and we

computer with their feet; others are placing

It started off as a way of rallying the troops,

end up selling the same products we did in

orders with the suppliers from inside their

and keeping everyone happy, and it’s ended

1978. It’s going to be another unusual year,

pedestal drawers. The guys who are working

up as a competition to see who can moan

and will be tough going, so it’s important we

from home don’t really seem to move much,

the most about deliveries and damages.

all look after ourselves, look on the bright

and Mrs O’ Reilly is convinced that they are

Sometimes it ends up with everyone

side of life and embrace the new challenge!

using cardboard cut-outs in the Zoom calls.

laughing and, in many ways, that’s the best


Some of the staff are working from

It’s important that we don’t allow

home and a few are still in the office, so

everyone to consume too much alcohol

we came up with all sorts of ideas to keep

during this time, so Mrs O’ Reilly has

[46] JANUARY 2021 www.dealersupport.co.uk

we can do at the minute. Happy New Year office suppliers, and stay safe!



VAT loophole closes on foreign online cartridge sellers Now we are through the Brexit transition period the government has introduced a new model for the VAT treatment of goods arriving in Great Britain from outside of the UK that will ensure that UK businesses are not disadvantaged by competition from VAT-free imports


he new model

that HMRC investigated sellers that were

addresses the

clearly not compliant before January 1.

problem of overseas

“The government has done a great job

sellers failing to pay

of finally flushing these cheats out of the

the right amount

undergrowth,” he said.

of VAT on sales of

goods that are already in the UK at the

Here are the relevant key measures:

point of sale.

For imports of goods from outside the

The change was made further to a

UK in consignments not exceeding £135

report by the Commons Public Accounts

in value (which aligns with the threshold

Committee in 2019 which found that

for customs duty liability), the point at

thousands of, mainly Chinese, sellers

which VAT is collected shifts from the

were evading the tax by using fake VAT

point of importation (import VAT) to the

numbers and shell companies to sell

point of sale (supply VAT) which will put

products in effect tax-free.

the onus on online marketplace companies

“Since 1st January 2021, online prices advertised by many non-UK businesses

Steve Clayton CTS Toner Supplies ltd

such as Amazon and eBay. For goods sent from overseas and

The abolition of low value

have increased by around 20%. This

sold directly to UK consumers not

consignment relief, which relieves import

reveals the huge cost to the taxpayer over

through an online marketplace open

VAT on consignments of goods valued at

a long period of time, something we could

market purchase (OMP), the overseas

£15 or less, will position UK retailers more

really do without in the current climate,”

seller will be required to register and

competitively for inkjet sales.

said Steve Clayton, MD of CTS Toner

account for the VAT to HMRC.

Supplies Ltd.

For goods in the UK at point-of-sale

This measure, and the £135 threshold on imports, covers the majority of low

HMRC estimated that the fraud across

sold by an overseas seller through an

value online cartridge sales and is a

all online sites could be losing the taxpayer

OMP for sales of goods irrespective of

massive fillip for our customers, UK

more than £1 billion a year. Richard

value the responsibility for accounting for

retailers – and, especially, online sellers -

Allen, of the group Retailers Against

VAT will move from the overseas seller to

who will now be more competitive against

VAT Schemes, said it was imperative

the OMP.

Chinese e-tailers.

www.dealersupport.co.uk JANUARY 2021 [47]

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Dealer Support January 2021