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August 2011 Issue 194

INSPIRING BUSINESS SOLUTIONS FOR DEALERS

Find everything needed to grow your office furniture sales at the Workspace Roadshow. If you haven’t already registered to attend, please visit

http://workspace2011.voweurope.com/register to find out the exact Workspace Roadshow dates and locations or contact your VOW Account Manager today. Unique Service, Expert Support

WHO’S THE BOSS? Vasanta’s Robert Baldrey SAILING THROUGH IDS analysis part two SPICERS SPEAKS Post-sale analysis


FROM THE EDITOR

A change is gonna come MANAGEMENT

LEGAL

LEGAL

Protecting your vital assets How can you ensure confidential business information is kept as such by employees, both during their employment and when they leave? Employment lawyer Matthew Welch explains

T

he publication by WikiLeaks of confidential information from US diplomats demonstrates the damage that can be done by unwanted disclosure and that even the largest organisations can suffer. On the other hand the recipe for Coca Cola has remained a well kept secret for decades. Information about your firm and how you do business is a vital asset that needs to be guarded from competitors. There are legal and practical steps you can take to protect business information, both while employees are with you and when they leave to work for a competitor.

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DURING EMPLOYMENT As their employer, one of the main controls you have over their misuse of the information is the fact that an employee owes you a fundamental duty to act honestly, not to compete and to keep confidential information secret, especially trade secrets. This duty does not have to be spelt out in the contract of employment, but it helps greatly if it is and if additional terms, such as requiring the employee to work only for you and defining clearly what you regard as confidential information, are included. This duty is known as a duty of fidelity. For directors and senior employees there is an additional duty called a fiduciary duty, which means they must act in good faith. They must, for example, give their employer their undivided loyalty; they must not have a conflict of interest with their employer; and they must use any of the employer’s confidential information only for the benefit of the employer. WHAT IF THE EMPLOYEE BREACHES THEIR DUTY? During employment a breach of a duty of fidelity or of a fiduciary duty will be a disciplinary matter. As the employer you should follow the disciplinary procedure in the ACAS code. Anything other than a minor breach by the employee will normally justify you dismissing the employee summarily. The risk then is that the employee will go off to

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Well, an awful lot has happened since the last issue of Dealer Support was put together. Both office products wholesalers have been subject to churn as their respective parent companies made significant top-down changes – in the case of DS Smith’s Spicers, confirming what had been subject to more conjecture and gossip than the results of the 2010 general election. However, as I write this comment, the sale of DS Smith’s wholesaling operation to Spanish giant Unipapel has far from put to bed the months of speculation. With reports of a subsequent buyout of the UK and Ireland Spicers business by private equity firm Better Capital (Becap), nobody seems sure just now who, exactly, owns Spicers. For some, this is all just a matter of semantics: as long as dealers can rely on a high standard of service from Spicers – in whatever guise it finds itself – what does it matter? It will be some months until things settle and the true impact on the dealer community is felt. See the newspaper section for an in-depth analysis. On the other side of the coin, Vasanta Group revealed its new sales and marketing organisation, the upshot of which will result in more business being directed through its VOW dealers. Group CEO Robert Baldrey discusses the changes and what’s in store for VOW on page 12. Elsewhere, it’s all about numbers, with GfK outlining the state of play at the end of Q2 (page six) and the second part of our IDS analysis examining the significant changes in the use of warehousing and product sourcing, as well as the recent additions to the league of e-commerce and the environment on page eight. The office workplace takes focus too, with tips on how to make your own office more efficient (page 32) and advice on how best to promote your company to your customers – see page 26. 31 For now, we wait with baited breath to see how things will pan out in the industry as we move closer to the final quarter of what has been a year of mixed fortunes. Watch this space as the picture unfolds, and do get in touch to share the view from the dealer’s window at editor@ dealersupport.co.uk.

set up in competition or work for a competitor. In these circumstances, as an employer, you will need to see if you can apply to a court for an injunction preventing the employee working in competition and obtain damages for any loss you may have suffered. There may also be other steps you are able to take. AFTER THE EMPLOYMENT ENDS While employed the employee must not disclose confidential information. But the duty changes when the employment ends. After the employment ends the employee must not disclose trade secrets, but can disclose some confidential information that they could not disclose while employed.

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rade secrets cover a narrower range of information than confidential information and include such things as manufacturing processes, including chemical formulae or designs, computer source codes and business plans and methods. To be protectable the information must be used in the business; if disclosed to a competitor it is likely to cause real or significant damage and the employer must have limited the circulation of the information. The duty not to disclose trade secrets applies regardless of whether the employee resigned or was dismissed with or without notice. RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS As a result of reduced protection of confidential information once an employee has left, employers need to take additional steps. Usually the employer will rely on restrictive covenants and confidentiality covenants in the contract of employment. Special care needs to be taken to ensure the covenants are tailored to protect the particular legitimate business interests of the employer. Confidential information should be clearly identified to improve the prospects of confidential information being treated as a trade secret. Ideally restrictive covenants should be in the contract of employment that the employee signs when their employment starts. If offered a detailed contract at the outset the employee is less likely to dispute the terms of

AUGUST 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

www.dealersupport.co.uk AUGUST 2011

“I’m definitely hoping that it will grow into a large, successful business. I’ve got big, long-term plans” MANAGING EDITOR Julia Dennison julia.dennison@intelligentmedia.co.uk

DESIGNER Sarah Chivers sarah.chivers@intelligentmedia.co.uk

EDITOR Allie Anderson allie.anderson@intelligentmedia.co.uk

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Sinead Coffey sinead.coffey@intelligentmedia.co.uk

FEATURES WRITER Matthew Jane matthew.jane@intelligentmedia.co.uk

SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER Natalia Johnston natalia.johnston@intelligentmedia.co.uk

COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Vicki Baloch vicki.baloch@intelligentmedia.co.uk

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Dan Price dan.price@intelligentmedia.co.uk

SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER – MEDIA SOLUTIONS Matthew Moore matthew.moore@intelligentmedia.co.uk

PUBLISHER david collingbourne david.collingbourne@intelligentmedia.co.uk

Allie Anderson, Editor

CONTACT US

intelligent media solutions suite 223, business design centre 52 upper street, london N1 0QH tel: 020 7288 6833 fax: 020 7288 6834 email: info@intelligentmedia.co.uk web: www.dealersupport.co.uk web: www.uspmagazine.com

Annual subscriptions are ABC 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 above address 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


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INSPIRING BUSINESS SOLUTIONS FOR DEALERS

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CONTENTS August 2011

INDUSTRY 06 OFFICE SUPPLIES Q2 REPORT GfK reports on how the industry has fared 08 WIND OF CHANGE Analysis of what’s going on at Spicers 10 COME TOGETHER The lowdown from Nemo’s annual conference

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12 TAKING STOCK A catch up with Vasanta CEO Robert Baldrey 16 WHAT WE LEARNED THIS MONTH Stats, facts and tid bits

PEOPLE 18 YOUNG GUN Entrepreneur Andrew Irvine on starting up

MANAGEMENT 22 PROTECTING YOUR ASSETS How to keep confidential information safe 26 SELL YOURSELF The best ways to promote your business 30 IDS LEAGUE ANALYSIS – PART TWO Martin Wilde’s second look at this year’s results

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32 STREAMLINED FOR SUCCESS Top tips for office efficiency 34 DIGITAL FINGERPRINTS How to turn web visitors into buyers

AND FINALLY... 36 BREAK TIME Exercise those grey cells 38 FINAL WORD Brother takes to the soapbox


Industry

report

Office Supplies Q2 2011 report GfK’s Esin Konuk discusses the quarter’s market trends

Growing well Multifunctional printing devices (MFDs) have experienced positive growth both in volume and value in quarter 2 of 2011 compared with the same period last year. However, the single function inkjet printers market has declined by 48% in volume and 31% in value, causing the overall printing market to experience negative growth as the renewal rate begins to slow and the life span of printing hardware continues to extend. Inkjet MFDs make up more than half of the printing devices market in terms of value and the market is performing well in value and volume compared to Q2 2010. The growth that has been seen is being driven by the mass merchandisers’ channel as a whole, which is the only channel with positive growth over last year compared with the previous 12 months. With this performance the channel has increased its share up to 43% in volume and 36% in value. Average prices have increased for all channels except among the mass merchandisers, where the prices dropped down to £55 from £61 as entry end machines continue to perform. Although touchscreen and web-enabled products are trending in the market, shares of such products are decreasing for the mass merchandisers channel. This is depite strong online performance.

Cutting remarks Similar to the printing market, document shredders have experienced a decline in volume during the second

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quarter (-13%), but in comparison they have managed to show a positive growth in value with 7.5% due to the performance in the OER/CSP/TCR (office equipment retailers). With the ever-increasing functionality of shredders – for example with cross-cutting and higher bin capacities – products can and do attain higher average prices. As a result, we have seen the OER/CSP/TCR exhibit an increase of 49% in average price in Q2 2011 reaching £101 at its peak.

Penned in ink With regards to the stationery sector, the ballpoint pens and rollerball pens markets were worth approximately £21m in Q2 2011 with 113 different brands competing in the market, over 30 of which are own label. However, the overall pens market experienced a negative growth of three per cent measured against the same quarter last year. The rollerballs market is actually on an increasing trend compared with ballpoints, which are in decline, influencing the overall pens market. We have seen an increasing share of the trade brands in the ballpoints market and as of Q2 2011, they make 25% of the total value. This can be aligned with the rollerballs market, where we continue to see branded goods take back lost market share both in value and volume, partially influenced by tougher exchange rates but also by strong advertising campaigns run by many of these brands over the last three to four months. DS

Esin Konuk GfK account executive esin.konuk@gfk.com www.gfkrt.com/uk 0870 603 8220


Industry

News analysis Spicers

Spicers: All change What’s next for the wholesaler and – more importantly – its dealer customers? Allie Anderson reports

T

he board at Spicers remains bullish despite a tumultuous half-year, insisting it’s business as usual while the sale by parent company DS Smith of its Europe-wide office supplies division is finalised. At a trade press presentation last month at Spicers’ Sawston HQ, MD Alan Ball, together with Tom Rodda, Jeanette Bresitz, John Fenton and Vida Barr-Jones – directors of sales, marketing services, merchandising and logistics respectively – were keen to promote the work the departments have been doing behind the scenes to strengthen the UK and Ireland business, confirming its commitment to supporting dealers and further improving services. The sale of Spicers’ continental European operations to Spanish wholesaler Unipapel for a total £200m – and subsequent £32m purchase from Unipapel of the UK and Ireland business by private equity firm Better Capital (Becap) – is subject to various agreements. Works council meetings took place last week both at Spicers and in France, with French council approval granted already. Only three per cent of applications to the French works council are passed first time, according to Ball. He said: “That’s probably brought the timescale down a little bit, but the expectation is still probably around the end

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august 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

As a true wholesaler we have no intention of exposing ourselves to an end-user market

of October before the sale will conclude.” This timescale is reliant on the sale also being sanctioned by European competition and UK pensions regulators. The purchase of Spicers UK and Ireland by London-based Becap is reportedly being driven by Ray Peck, whose 25 years’ in the industry – formerly heading up Guilbert Niceday and Corporate Express – has most recently seen him create office2office through the management buy-in of dealer Banner Business Supplies. In February, Peck was also appointed chairman of the board of print management firm Paperhat. He was tasked with identifying and completing a series of acquisitions that would expand Paperhat’s range of services. In short, there is little clarity regarding who, exactly, will own the UK and Ireland business when current transactions are completed. However the sale, at a markedly low price of £32m compared with the projected value of £350m, was sealed thanks to Spicers’ three-year plan, explained Ball. This involves a radical overhaul of Spicers’ marketing programme to include a new-look catalogue for 2012, the design of which has been guided by consumer feedback. Some 2,000 product lines have been removed. Ball also confirmed that two vendors have been de-listed, although there might well be more casualties. The 5-Star brand has been overhauled with the re-brand and new logo set to be unveiled at this year’s Everything for the Office show, which will take place on 7 and 8 December at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena. Fenton confirmed that since each of


News analysis Spicers

Change is in the air Spicers changes hands

Spicers’ European constituents’ own label brands has its own trademark, 5-Star will not be affected by the sale. Elsewhere, Barr-Jones is continuing to focus on increasing the efficiency of logistics operations. The bold aim of 100% line fill on the top 500 skus (currently it’s 98%) is to be supported by a higher value substitutions policy at no cost to the dealer. Ball also revealed details of Spicers’s imminent final mile logistics operation services from a number of new stocking units, aimed at helping dealers in and around major city hubs to attract high-value contract business. The new subdivision, called Spring, will provide same-day delivery within these urban areas. The launch of the first 10,000 sq ft unit in Beckton, east London, is expected to be operational by the end of October. Spicers will partner with six to 10 local dealers that have existing accounts in the London area and that will pay an annual fee – as well as investing in a salesperson to cover the territory – for their involvement. Spicers will also invest in a salesperson who will support in corporate pitches and qualify leads. Leads generated by Spring will be posted to the partnering dealers, which will have to fight it out among themselves to win the contract. Contracts, once secured, will be between the end-user and the dealer, with Spring providing the supply chain mechanism to deliver same-day or next-day. Any portion of an order that is non-urgent – which Ball anticipates will be just two per cent – will be

The purchase of Spicers UK is being driven by Ray Peck, who created office2office through the management buy-in of dealer Banner

delivered through the usual CDC and RDC channel. Ball was quick to attempt to quell any concerns of a potential conflict of interest. He said: “We don’t want to take business away from our existing Spicers dealers. We want to make sure we qualify the lead and minimise that as much as possible. “With the amount of sales in the marketplace and the fact that most of our dealers in that area are doing single millions, it’s going to happen. There are going to be instances where we’re going to have to tackle that. But they’re going to be few and far between, particularly when you look at the type of contracts we’re going to be aiming for. “At no point are we invoicing or will you see Spicers on any delivery. I know we keep drilling it to death, but as a true wholesaler we have no intention of exposing ourselves to an end-user market. We just want to create a facility for our dealers to be able to secure that business.” Ball admitted, however, that one local dealer that has been consulted is vehemently opposed to the plan. The Beckton prototype of Spring will be supported by significant marketing spend, with advertising campaigns on London’s underground network and billboards, on top of the estimated £200k capital investment to construct the facility and additional £200k running costs. Spicers hopes that, through the scheme, it will attract, via its resellers, a larger share of the £1.68bn of office products sales, only £55-60m of which it currently serves. DS

www.dealersupport.co.uk august 2011

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INDUSTRY

REPORT Nemo conference

Looking to the future With a year of exciting change and development behind them, the 2011 Nemo conference was built upon an ethos of collaboration for even greater future success. Allie Anderson went along to find out more

D

ealer group Nemo’s annual conference, Together towards Tomorrow, took on a new format this year, as it occupied much of the Vale Resort in south Wales in June. Set against the stunning backdrop of the rolling, rugged cliffs of the Vale of Glamorgan, the first day of the two-day event was very much a family affair. Members and suppliers came together to tackle the tough Welsh National Course for a round of golf, while the afternoon saw guests encouraged to embrace the beautiful outdoors with archery, laser clay AND THE WINNERS ARE… and air rifle shooting, and inflatable football on offer. Wholesaler of the Year The entertainment followed on into the evening with ‘All the Fun Robert Horne Group of the Fair’, a circus-themed family night sponsored by Robert Horne Manufacturer of the Year Group. Guests were amused by jesters, stilt walkers, and magicians and Brother UK enjoyed trying their luck on the coconut shy, hook-a-duck, money Innovation Award grabber and shoot out. Sigel Magnetic Glass Boards Saturday’s proceedings began with the group’s AGM, after which Dealer of the Year the stage was taken by Susanne Dansey of Purple Cow Ideas Ben Johnson Management, whose presentation on social media was guided by her Outstanding Contribution to Nemo (Member) own experience working in the industry. A record 52 suppliers signed John McCall up to attend the afternoon’s exhibition, among them new suppliers Outstanding Contribution to Nemo (Supplier) Print3Group Samsung, Micro P, Willowbrook Education, Canon and Epson. The evening’s black tie dinner, sponsored by Samsung Electronics, Personality of the Year Mike James kicked off in fine style with a cocktail reception. Although more formal Best Stand of Show than the previous night’s event, a friendly and relaxed atmosphere Robert Horne Group pervaded the glitzy hall, as the exhibitors’ prizes were handed out. Dealer Alliance The highlight of the conference, as ever, was the Nemo Awards and, JL Group in line with previous years, the 2011 awards were keenly contested, recognising the achievements of both suppliers and members. This year’s awards categories (see box out) were updated to coincide with the new conference format and to reflect the changes Nemo has implemented in the past year. When the plates were clean and the awards had been handed out, comedienne Shappi Khorsandi amused guests with her witty repertoire and engaging charm. With positive feedback from dealers and suppliers and the group celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012, the pressure is on to go even bigger and better next year! DS

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AUGUST 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk


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Industry

interview Vasanta Group

A clear Channel In June, Vasanta Group announced that it was reorganising its sales and marketing and boosting support for dealers by eliminating its mid-market Supplies Team business, instead driving SME end-user sales through its VOW resellers in a bid to clarify sales channels and routes to market. Allie Anderson spoke to Vasanta CEO Robert Baldrey 14 months into his tenure to get the lowdown

The step-change was quite a bold move for the group and good news for dealers. What has the reaction been from the dealer community? They’ve reacted very positively. Despite the fact that Supplies Team was always principally focused on the large corporate and public customers anyway, it has still been well received by dealers and we’ve had a lot of positive reaction. The SME end-user was never a very large piece of the Supplies Team business, but it’s one that has caused some emotion in the dealer community. In fact, there has been lots of enthusiasm and interest from dealers calling [VOW MD] Adrian Butler after we announced that we intend to create additional support tools and services to help dealers grow. They’re asking: “How are we going to get this done?” Clearly, there is the appetite in the dealer community for wholesalers helping them to grow, which you’d expect in the current market. So how are you going to get it done? We’re looking at what kind of new services we can offer dealers to help them grow. As you know, we have the VOW+ Partners Programme where we already offer a number of things like the strategic alliance with the Business Performance Group and we are now consulting with dealers to see how else we can help them develop

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their sales. This isn’t just about getting them to buy more things from us – this comes from understanding that if the dealer grows, we grow too. Some of the Supplies Team people were under consultation, with a view to them potentially being redeployed to strengthen the support network VOW offers to its independent resellers. What kind of things can those people bring to that dealer support network having focused until now on selling to the end-user? There are a number of things we’re considering, which I wouldn’t want to discuss in too much detail at the moment. One example is whether dealers would be interested in us helping them with telesales services, like appointment-making and prospecting or having an additional internal sales resource that they could buy into. We’re also considering whether we can offer the people who were working in the mid-market Supplies Team business roles in our customer sales and service centre in Normanton, where a lot of them were based. I’m hopeful we won’t lose too many people but will be able to reallocate them to support the dealer. They must have valuable expertise in the industry. Yes, and as we go on this journey, one of our priorities is


interview Vasanta group

robert Baldrey Vasanta CEO

that we’re not going to lose good people as a result of this. We’re doing whatever we can to protect those 20-odd people. Will those options for strengthening support for dealers be developed in consultation with dealers themselves? Absolutely, as that’s very much the style of how we do things at Vasanta, and certainly with VOW – we adopt a very consultative approach. For example, we’re working with a number of dealers to help develop our managed print services offering. We don’t pretend to have all the answers – our customers are in a position to give extremely useful input and we work in a partnership. If you’ve got someone involved from day one, they’re much more likely to take up what you’ve got on offer anyway; it’s a waste of energy trying to develop services if the customer turns around afterwards and says: “I don’t want or need that.” The aim of this was to clarify Vasanta Group’s ways to market and remove that element of confusion. Do you think there’s a chance that, in some circumstances, it could cloud things even more? I suppose what you’re really asking is, can we be clinical in defining rules about who is selling to whom exactly, and

I’m a big believer that if you get the right people, lots of things that you previously thought were very difficult suddenly become easy

the answer is no. With this sort of model, there are always going to be exceptions to the rule. You might have a small dealer that has a relationship with a large corporate because his brother-in-law works there. If you start setting strict rules, you’ll inevitably trip over. I don’t think it makes things more clouded, and I’ve always said our aim is to minimise rather than totally eradicate channel conflict. Three-quarters of the group’s business is wholesaling, so our focus is on supporting the dealer in the most productive way possible. Do you think the three areas of the Vasanta business – wholesaling, direct-to-end-user and retail – will continue to have synergies in the way they fit together? Yes, and the product categories will remain broadly the same. We see, within business supplies – a term that we increasingly use instead of office supplies – massive opportunities going forward with FM products, but there is absolutely a similarity in the product sets between the three areas of the business, no question. There are also new services demanded by the very large end-user accounts, like MPS, that we will develop in Supplies Team, but then adapt for the dealer to use, supported by VOW. Our channel structure therefore gives us great insight into what the dealer is likely to need in his armoury in the future.

www.dealersupport.co.uk august 2011

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Industry

interview Vasanta Group

OFFICE SPACE VOW’s Arrow Distribution Centre

How much of the whole Vasanta business does each of those individual areas comprise? Broadly speaking, the wholesaling piece is the lion’s share of the business, comprising about 70%, around 20% would be Supplies Team and the rest would be retail. Do you see that as remaining the case going forward? If you look at the way the overall end-user market is split, it’s roughly a third each between retail, SME and large corporate/public end-users. However, the reality is that we already have a much larger wholesaling business and a great deal of experience in this area of the market, so we will continue to concentrate on supporting the dealer. All three areas of the business are, however, growing. In the last nine months, we’ve signed new business of around £40m across the group, in a market that is, at best, flat. There have been some management changes since you were appointed as CEO, with CFO Mark Johnston and operations director Frans van de Schootbrugge replaced and other people being brought on board. How important are the right people in pushing things forward? It’s absolutely vital, and a very big part of my role and responsibilities is making sure I have the right team in place. I’m a big believer that if you get the right people, lots of things that you previously thought were very difficult suddenly become easy. I think we’ve now got a very good blend of people with market experts like VOW MD Adrian Butler and Nigel Mitchell, our merchandising director, combined with new people bringing experience from different markets to the mix, such as John Burkill, our recently appointed logistics director.

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£40m New business signed across the group in the last nine months

Can you tell me about the new warehouse management system for the Normanton facility? Effectively, it takes an order from another of our systems, decides what size box the product needs, pushes it around the conveyor belt and makes sure it gets to the right delivery vehicle. It currently handles the Supplies Team and retail businesses, together with some of our northern VOW customers that need a delivery quicker than we can get out to them from the Lutterworth site. Having an automated system must make things easier. One of our key advantages is that we only have three distribution centres. It’s all about depth of stock, which drives excellent order fill. In addition, the level of automation we have at all three of our facilities makes our cost to serve lower. With ever more emphasis through the whole supply chain to take cost out, that’s very important. We’re always hearing about whether the wholesale model is sustainable with the costs it has, so any area in which you can remove costs is going to help. I think it’s about working closely with dealers, avoiding duplication of effort and cost and playing to our strengths, while working in close partnership. That’s why some dealers have moved to a stockless model and others use the pick, wrap and label offering, retaining their own final mile delivery. What dealers do well is maintain those close relationships with end-users and what we do well is manage the logistics so that when the dealer takes an order at 3pm; he knows we’ve got what he needs and that we can deliver it either to him or the end-user the next day. As long as you’ve got efficient wholesalers, you’ve got a strong dealer community and as long as they continue to want to buy from us, it is a sustainable model. DS


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INDUSTRY

WHAT WE LEARNED THIS MONTH

WHAT WE LEARNED THIS MONTH A round-up of office supplies tidbits and trivia STATS AND FACTS

IN THE NEWS

€90m m The estimated value of office supplies seized by EU Customs in 2010 for suspected violation of intellectual property rights

QUOTE UNQUOTE The largest companies have experienced a turnaround in fortunes and now the larger mid-sized businesses are following suit, with a significant improvement since last year MD for business information services at Experian, Max Firth, on the results of its latest inoslvency index

DATES FOR THE DIARY Synaxon conference What: Inaugural conference for members of the IT and OP dealer group When: 8-9 September Where: De Vere Wychwood Park hotel and golf complex, Cheshire Info: www.events.synaxon.co.uk VOW WorkSpace 2011 What: Series of VOW Interiors furniture roadshows When: 7-15 September Where: Various across England Info: david.orr@vowinteriors.co.uk Midwich Technology Exposed What: The distributor’s annual technology showcase When: 21-22 September Where: Acsot Racecourse, Berkshire Info: www.technology-exposed.com

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AUGUST 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

Chair impresses Lord Sugar Inventor Tom Pellereau won over Lord Alan Sugar with his ergonomic chair design to become the winner of the latest series of BBC’s The Apprentice. In a change to the format of previous series of the show, the recent run saw Lord Sugar invest £250k in the successful candidate’s start-up venture. The winning business plan was to deliver ergonomic chairs to office workers, as well as carry out posture checks on staff as part of a service package. Lord Sugar chose to go into business with Pellereau despite saying the service aspect “ain’t gonna work” – and being presented with a lengthy and verbose business plan that failed to even mention the word ‘chair’!

Cambridge’s grand stationery amnesty Staff at Cambridge City Council have handed in over £1,200 worth of stationery as part of an amnesty on office supplies aimed at cutting costs and increasing recycling. Items returned included a £50 printing calculator and an adjustable book rack worth more than £20, as well as binders, envelopes, file dividers and a mass of paper weighing more than three tonnes – enough to reach almost 117 feet tall if piled up. It is hoped the initiative will make staff more aware of reusing office supplies, and will no doubt make a fair few local dealers grumble.


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dealer interview AI Communications

Young and free Aged 20 and out of work after his employer, Manchester dealer Durnbridge Stationers, went into administration, Andrew Irvine used his industry knowledge and experience and took the bold step of setting up on his own. He chats to Allie Anderson, four months after establishing AI Communications

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August 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk


dealer interview AI Communications

What’s your background and your connection with the office supplies industry?

When I left school I went to college to do an IT practitioners’ course, but it was less practical – fixing computers and such – than theory, so it wasn’t what I thought it would be. At the same time I applied for a part-time job with a stationer in Manchester called Durnbridge, working a few days a week while I was at college. I did a bit of everything, like ordering from suppliers, taking orders from customers, delivering goods, marketing and getting involved in the day-to-day running of the business. I also built their website for them. It was a very small company; there were four other people working there – the director, another sales assistant, a delivery driver and an accountant – so everybody pitched in. I was there for four years in total, until the business went into administration in November last year.

Obviously you liked it there if you were there for four years and you’ve gone on to set up your own company in the same field. What was it about the industry that made you want to stay in it?

Ever since I was at school, I’ve liked playing around with pens and trying to fix them if they stopped working, and that sort of thing. When I started at Durnbridge, I didn’t really think anything of it – it was just a part-time job to earn some money. But I liked it and my interest just grew. I liked working with the customers and the contact with the wholesalers, and the fact that it was really hands on. It’s just something I enjoyed; I don’t really know why.

When Durnbridge closed down, did you think about looking for another job or doing something different, or had you already planned to set up your own business? I did look for other jobs to start with, but there was nothing around in the office supplies industry. I was looking for anything in the industry – delivery driving or in another shop – but there was nothing available. Then one day, I thought to myself: ‘Hang on, I’ve been doing this for four years, I know quite a lot about it and I enjoy it, so why not start up on my own?’ I’d always had plans to set up my own business at some point.

So you have an entrepreneurial spirit then?

I love everything to do with business. While I was studying and working part-time I had a sideline selling mobile accessories, which I still do as part of AI.

How did you go about setting up your own business – did you know anything about it before?

I didn’t really know much although I have looked into it in the past, but was put off by everything you have to do. It’s quite daunting having to register with Companies House and for VAT and things like that. But I was at a point where I didn’t have anything else to do and I thought: ‘If I don’t do it now, I never will.’ So I took the plunge. That’s what most people say is the hardest thing – actually taking the plunge to do it. I did a bit of research and found a company that registers new companies on your behalf, so I went from there. I registered for VAT using an accountant that [the third party company] uses, but now I have my own accountant and we’re well on our way.

www.dealersupport.co.uk August 2011

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people

dealer interview AI Communications

CV company: AI Communications Name: Andrew Irvine location: Manchester

AI Communications Number of staff: One Wholesaler: Spicers Website:

www.ineedstationerynow.co.uk Back office system: FreeAgent

(for accounts)

Did you have to secure any funding?

No, I’m trying to do things on my own at the moment, using some savings I had. I’m trying to get customers to pay within seven days of placing an order, so I’ve got the money ready to pay my suppliers when they invoice me. And I operate from home, so my overheads are low.

It’s not easy because most people don’t want to change who they buy their office products from, especially at the moment. You just have to keep trying, and there are plenty of businesses out there

Some people might expect longer credit terms, especially in the current climate. Is it difficult to persuade people to do business like that and to pay up more quickly?

To be honest, the customers I’ve been dealing with, who were previous customers [of Durnbridge] understand why, as a new company, I ask them to pay in seven days and there have been no problems so far.

How have you gone about prospecting for customers?

The old company had about 50 customers and I’ve contacted all of them. They’ve all been quite receptive and the orders I’ve had in so far have been quite good – a couple of hundred pounds each time.

How do you think the business will grow? Do you plan to keep on pushing for business from Durnbridge’s old client list, or prospecting for new accounts?

I’ll keep contacting the old customers. One of the accounts was a fairly big one with a firm of solicitors, and I’ve been in touch with them to see if I can compete with who they do business with now, and I’m hoping to work with them. I’ve also been contacting

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august 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

brand new businesses that I’ve never spoken to before, introducing myself and the business and trying to work my way in. It’s not easy because most people don’t want to change who they buy their office products from, especially at the moment. It can be really hard but you just have to keep trying, and there are plenty of businesses out there. I cold call to introduce myself and explain that as a new business, our overheads are currently quite low and our margins are low, so we can only give better prices.

And you already have relationships with the wholesalers.

I’ve dealt with them a lot so I know how it works. At the moment, I mainly deal with Spicers and I’m concentrating on getting order volumes up and then working with VOW as well.

Did you include a projected end-of-first-year turnover and other financial targets in your business plan when you set up?

I haven’t really got an amount in mind, as I didn’t really know what customers would be spending. But my


Irongate Group is powered by...

Progress

®

dealer interview AI Communications

dealer bookmark

4

The number of years’ experience Irvine had in the independent channel and the number of months his business has been trading

Adam Noble MD Irongate Group Derby

Speciality

investment was small compared with a lot of companies and I’d be happy with anything – even just making a profit at the moment! But I’m definitely hoping that it will grow into a large, successful business, like Rymans or Viking. I’ve got big long-term plans.

Will you just be supplying businesses or do you anticipate also having a retail element?

The online web shop I operate at the moment is intended for businesses and the general public, but I’m not sure about opening a retail store as that’s quite a big jump, with overheads and the stock you’ve got to invest in. But maybe sometime in the future…

What products and services do you supply?

We supply the entire range that Spicers supplies, so whatever Spicers sells, we sell too – furniture, catering, printing supplies, machines – you name it. And we’ve also got mobile accessories, which I get through a different supplier that I used to work with when I did that before. We have the ability to get specials as well. For example, I have a customer who wants neon Post-it notes but only in orange, but of course 3M doesn’t normally do just orange as they wouldn’t be very popular. But we got hold of them through Spicers at a minimum order or six packs, which the customer was happy with.

Have you any plans to specialise in the future or would you rather remain a generalist?

There’s no particular area that I’m more interested in than others, but if anything, technology does grab my attention because of my background and interest in computers. I don’t want to limit myself though.

Presumably, having a wide product base and going out of your way to get specials helps to build up a rapport with customers.

Yes, definitely. With some of the larger companies, they can quite often do it but they choose not to. We found that with the retail store Durnbridge had. Customers would come in wanting something specific that Rymans told them they couldn’t get. But we knew they could because they deal with the same suppliers we did. They just didn’t want to go out of their way or spend an extra few minutes trying to help, whereas we’d go through the catalogue, phone around suppliers and do what we could. It might take a bit longer or cost the customer a bit more, but if they want something, it’s there.

It sounds like you’ve done a great job in setting your business up and establishing yourself. You must be pleased with how it’s all going so far.

I’m really pleased with how it’s going; I’ve got orders coming in and the web store is up and running, and I’ve done it all myself. Obviously you always set your sights higher, and I’ll always be looking for more orders and selling more, and making more money. That’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to try to help people out and get your name out there as much as possible, because there are lots of businesses out there doing exactly the same thing. You have to do all you can to make yourself unique.

What advice would you give to others in a similar position to you, thinking of starting up?

I would say: “Do it – take the leap!” I was scared at first but I’m definitely glad I did it. It’s not just for the sake of being your own boss, because if you mess up you have to take responsibility and it’s nobody’s fault but your own. But it gives you your own thing that you look after and you can be proud of. DS

It may sound like a cliché, but we have great people, which in turn makes great teams. That enables us to keep innovating and creating new opportunities.

CV

I joined Irongate in 1990 as a salesman. Irongate was a shop then, turning over a couple of hundred thousand pounds a year. Since then it’s grown to what it is today – a £16m office supplies and print business.

Winning moment

I’ve done lots of things in sport and had some great moments with my kids’ graduations, but my biggest winning moment is Irongate’s success and what it’s achieved over the last 20 years. That’s what really stands out.

Catchphrase

“Sell more tomorrow than you did today”

Word for the wise Since we started using Progress in 2000, the system has always done exactly what it says on the tin. We’ve never had a minute’s trouble with it and it’s done everything we’ve wanted it to do, allowing us to fully concentrate on and grow the business.

the leader in industryspecific business software

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MANAGEMENT

legal

Protecting your vital assets How can you ensure confidential business information is kept as such by employees, both during their employment and when they leave? Employment lawyer Matthew Welch explains

T

he publication by Wikileaks of confidential information from US diplomats demonstrates the damage that can be done by unwanted disclosure and that even the largest organisations can suffer. On the other hand the recipe for Coca Cola has remained a well kept secret for decades. Information about your firm and how you do business is a vital asset that needs to be guarded from competitors. There are legal and practical steps you can take to protect business information, both while employees are with you and when they leave to work for a competitor. DURINg eMPlOYMeNT as their employer, one of the main controls you have over their misuse of the information is the fact that an employee owes you a fundamental duty to act honestly, not to compete and to keep confidential information secret, especially trade secrets. This duty does not have to be spelt out in the contract of employment, but it helps greatly if it is and if additional terms, such as requiring the employee to work only for you and defining clearly what you regard as confidential information, are included. This duty is known as a duty of fidelity. For directors and senior employees there is an additional duty called a fiduciary duty, which means they must act in good faith. They must, for example, give their employer their undivided loyalty; they must not have a conflict of interest with their employer; and they must use any of the employer’s confidential information only for the benefit of the employer. WHaT IF THe eMPlOYee BReaCHeS THeIR DUTY? During employment a breach of a duty of fidelity or of a fiduciary duty will be a disciplinary matter. as the employer you should follow the disciplinary procedure in the aCaS code. anything other than a minor breach by the employee will normally justify you dismissing the employee summarily. The risk then is that the employee will go off to

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august 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

set up in competition or work for a competitor. In these circumstances, as an employer, you will need to see if you can apply to a court for an injunction preventing the employee working in competition and obtain damages for any loss you may have suffered. There may also be other steps you are able to take. aFTeR THe eMPlOYMeNT eNDS While employed the employee must not disclose confidential information. But the duty changes when the employment ends. after the employment ends the employee must not disclose trade secrets, but can disclose some confidential information that they could not disclose while employed.

T

rade secrets cover a narrower range of information than confidential information and include such things as manufacturing processes, including chemical formulae or designs, computer source codes and business plans and methods. To be protectable the information must be used in the business; if disclosed to a competitor it is likely to cause real or significant damage and the employer must have limited the circulation of the information. The duty not to disclose trade secrets applies regardless of whether the employee resigned or was dismissed with or without notice. ReSTRICTIVe COVeNaNTS as a result of reduced protection of confidential information once an employee has left, employers need to take additional steps. Usually the employer will rely on restrictive covenants and confidentiality covenants in the contract of employment. Special care needs to be taken to ensure the covenants are tailored to protect the particular legitimate business interests of the employer. Confidential information should be clearly identified to improve the prospects of confidential information being treated as a trade secret. Ideally restrictive covenants should be in the contract of employment that the employee signs when their employment starts. If offered a detailed contract at the outset the employee is less likely to dispute the terms of


legal

www.dealersupport.co.uk august 2011

23


MANAGEMENT

legal

the restrictive covenants; whereas if introduced later the employee may not accept them. The introduction of covenants after the employee starts may well be a variation of the contract of employment to which the employer needs to obtain the employee’s agreement. If you are going to introduce covenants after the employment has started it is sensible to do so at the time of pay increases or promotions as the employee is then more likely to agree to them rather than decline the pay rise or promotion. The pay increase will also be a consideration that should help to ensure the employee’s agreement to abide by the covenants is binding. WHaT DO ReSTRICTIVe COVeNaNTS PROTeCT? Restrictive covenants will help to protect against former employees approaching customers or suppliers and poaching key staff. In certain circumstances, covenants prevent former employees dealing with customers, and in more limited circumstances competing with their former employer, usually within a defined geographical area.

Anything other than a minor breach of duty by the employee will normally justify you dismissing the employee summarily

T

o be enforceable, a covenant has to be reasonable. The courts need to strike a balance between allowing the employee to work and protecting the employer’s legitimate business interest. This means the courts will, for example when considering a covenant preventing the former employee approaching customers, look at how long it will take the employer to recruit a replacement and for the replacement to re-establish a trading relationship with customers. In practice, many restrictive covenants prevent an employee competing for no more than six months. If a court considers a covenant applies for an unreasonably long time they will not enforce it. It is safer to err on the side of caution and have a covenant for a shorter period. HOW DOeS THe eMPlOYeR eNFORCe THe COVeNaNTS? If the employee is in breach of their covenants the employer can apply to the courts for an injunction and for damages to compensate for the losses incurred because of the breach. Through the injunction the court can enforce the covenants and order the employee not to contact customers or even prevent them working for a competitor. Breach of an injunction is a serious matter and can have serious consequences for the employee. applying for an injunction, however, does have its risks. The employer will need good evidence that the employee is in breach of the covenants and will need to be able to satisfy the court that the covenants

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august 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

are reasonable and protect a legitimate business interest. In addition, injunction proceedings are expensive and if the employer does not have a strong case they are at risk of also having to pay the employee’s legal costs. WHaT CaNNOT Be PROTeCTeD? The employer cannot prevent their former employee using their skill, experience, know-how and knowledge. This is regarded as the employee’s property to use for their own benefit or that of a competitor. The employer also cannot prevent the use of information that is public knowledge. You need therefore to be able to identify information that is particular to the business, rather than part of the employee’s skills, and ensure that confidential information is not so widely disseminated as to become public knowledge. gaRDeN leaVe aND OTHeR PROTeCTIONS There can be uncertainty about the reasonableness and enforceability of a covenant and obtaining evidence to show a former employee has approached customers or used confidential information. One way round these is to have a garden leave clause in the contract. In this way an employee leaving their employer serves out their notice at home, but remains an employee and therefore out of circulation and unable to compete. Courts will not allow garden leave to be too long and six months is probably the longest period you can rely on even if the notice period is longer. garden leave is not an effective protection where the employee is able to show they need to practise their skills; it might make their skills rusty and accordingly they will be put at a disadvantage on the jobs market. a variation on garden leave is for the contract of employment to provide that during the notice period the employer is entitled to vary the employee’s duties within reason and therefore keep them away from customers or sensitive information. DaTaBaSe RIgHTS The Copyright and Rights in Database Regulations 1997 provide additional protection for employers particularly where you cannot prove use of trade secrets or breach of a covenant. You must show you have made a “substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents of the database”. If you can and an employee or exemployee, without your permission, extracts or re-uses all or a substantial part of the database, you have a claim for an injunction, damages and an account of profits. an account of profits means the employee must show how much money he has made from using your database and pay this to you. aDVICe Protecting business information is vital for most employers but it is uncertain, complex and expensive. However, employers can strengthen their position by taking legal advice at an early stage, to write confidentiality provisions and restrictive covenants tailored to the needs of the business, and ensuring they are kept up to date. Procedures should also be put in place and followed so confidential information is clearly identified and only accessed by the employees who need to use it and that employees are made aware of their duty of confidentiality. Where necessary you should monitor employees, so far as the law allows, whom you reasonably suspect may be misusing information. DS Matthew Welch is a solicitor at Bath Law


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management

advice

You didn’t know we sold chairs? Andy Strevens considers why customers don’t know about all of your products and services and the importance of keeping up constant contact so they don’t forget

O

ne of the most frustrating things in business is discovering you’ve missed out on an opportunity because the customer didn’t know you could supply a particular product. This is made even more exasperating by the fact that there is barely a product in existence that a decent office supplies dealer cannot source and supply – even if you don’t have a direct line to the manufacturer, you can often use the specials team at your wholesaler. Let’s take a fictional customer – ABC Ltd – that needs 50 new chairs. Having received an email from a supplier about chairs and without knowing his regular office supplies dealer does a nice line in furniture, the operations director buys from the alternative supplier. A single person in the admin department normally places the orders and is the only person in ABC Ltd that the incumbent office supplies dealer has contact with. Why did you lose out? The regular supplier missed out because they weren’t in contact with the director who ordered the chairs. In fact, he didn’t even know who the supplier was. I don’t need to tell you how important it is to have a database with more that one point of contact per customer, otherwise when that person leaves or someone higher up the chain comes in, you run the risk of losing that customer altogether. You must make sure your brand is synonymous with efficient delivery of all types of products across the entire hierarchy. This means knowing: n the person who places the orders n who their manager is n who the head of accounts is, i.e. the person who can pay you n and – most importantly – who the final decision maker is.

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august 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

01dMainText_NoIndent 01e_MainText_Indent n 01f_BulletText n 01f_BulletText

01g_Subhead 01h_Author_Thanks


adveRToRiaL

Still writing after 60 years “Development is based on risk. the gain is proportional to the risk. the more you risk, the more you have the chance to win – or lose. the practical solution: cover the risk totally from the start and then you can only win”

 The ball in the nib of each

BIC® Cristal® pen is made of tungstene carbide powder and a fatty additive, and are vitrified in an oven to become almost as hard as a diamond

 A single BIC® Cristal® pen can write up to two kilometres

 Black ink is more popular in

the UK, Italy and the Nordics, while the rest of Europe has a tradition of using blue ink

these were some of the first words that marcel Bich wrote to the stakeholders of BIC® back in 1973, and their inspiring values are still strongly held by the company, and indeed by marcel’s grandson, gonzalve Bich, who is today the general manager of northern europe for BIC®, and local general manager for UK and Ireland. gonzalve Bich has worked for Bic® for nine years and is very proud of its heritage and the success that the Bic® cristal® pen, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, has had within the market. The Bic® cristal® pen has become an integral part of life for consumers across the world; from children’s pencil cases and office workers’ desks, to being used by designers and artists in exhibitions and art galleries – and it has become the most sold ball pen in the world. The birth of the modern ball point pen began with Laszlo Josef Biro who invented the initial concept but it was the intuition and tenacity of Baron Marcel Bich and his partner edouard Buffard that turned the initial idea into the pen we know today. Marcel Bich built upon Biro’s basic pen design and spent time researching the ideal ink formula and ensuring the design was both attractive and functional. in december 1950 in clichy, France, the first Bic® cristal® was brought to market, retailing at 0.50 French Francs. it was the first affordable ball point pen for the masses, and 60 years on, it is now sold in every continent around the world. The Bic® cristal® stands out from the crowd for a few reasons. The design has barely changed since it was first manufactured apart from the introduction of a small hole in the top its lid for health and safety reasons in the 1990s. also, the oil based ink, point and ball were designed to ensure a smooth and consistent flow to maximise comfortable writing. independent research was conducted by the university of Reading in 2010 into the everyday usage of ball point pens in the uK, and the Bic® cristal® pen was proven to write up to two times longer than most of its usual ball pen competitors. The research also discovered that, on average, one Bic® cristal® pen is able to write 9,431 signatures, 7,770 phone numbers, 1,475 christmas cards or 531 crossword puzzles. as gonzalve reflects on the 60 year history of the company, he also highlights Bic®’s focus on sustainability in relation to its products. “We work extremely hard to ensure our contribution towards sustainable development is the best it can be, and strive that our production and manufacturing is as environmentally friendly as possible. as a result of this, we are very proud that Bic® has been recognised as the only manufacturer of writing instruments to receive an NF environment stamp of approval, which is the official French ecological certification.” some Bic® products obtained this eco-label mainly as a result of various criteria including limited use of raw materials, a minimum content of recycled materials, long-lasting performance of its writing instruments and the resistance of its lead, depending on the product concerned. These are important steps, which they plan to build on, in the months and years to come. since its inception 60 years ago, Bic® has developed a suite of stationery products including the Tipp-ex brand of correction fluid, the Bic® Kids range of colouring pens and pencils, the ecolutions range, which is largely made from recycled materials as well as non-stationery products such as lighters and shavers. gonzalve concludes: “There are very few brands which are able to claim the longevity and iconic values of the Bic® cristal®. We are delighted to celebrate its 60th anniversary this year and are looking forward, as a company, to the next chapter in Bic®’s story.” 


management

advice

These people will probably not be on your regular call lists – you may only speak to them a few times a year – but it’s important to maintain a line of communication with each individual so they understand what you do. If you don’t send regular communications with these contacts, your competitors will – and probably already do. Keeping in touch needn’t entail regular calls or meetings, but should include corporate communication. It’s probably best not to send special offers and promotions unless you know the customer wants them, so keep it to announcements about new services or products. Regular communication The incumbent supplier in the example didn’t keep up regular communication beyond the annual catalogue. Regular, targeted marketing can be the key to creating, developing and keeping customers, making products not on their core list a real consideration and ousting the competition before they’ve prospected. Successful companies do well because they send relevant promotions to the right people on a regularly scheduled basis. This, however, is one of the trickiest things for a smaller dealer to get right, which is why you need to get smart with your approach. Digital channels are among the most cost-effective and efficient ways to get the right message directly to the right person, but if you take too long to come up with a campaign and too long to get it out there, your target audience will forget all about you. There are a few steps you can take to make sure this doesn’t happen. 1. Data cleansing Your customer service team has more contact with your customers than anyone else, so they hold the key to making sure the contacts database is up-to-date. Purging your contacts list is a daunting task but is necessary to maintain your database. It should be one of customer services’ primary responsibilities and time should be set aside every week so the team can make sure all your customer details are correct. By setting the task of checking and updating two customers every day, you’ll have updated 40 records within a month. If that takes 15 minutes a day – including the time it takes to make the call and update the database – surely that’s time well spent? 2. A marketing schedule The first thing people seem to do when it comes to creating a schedule is to call a meeting then spend two hours

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august 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

It’s important to have more than one contact per customer, or when they leave or someone higher comes in, you run the risk of losing the customer altogether

disagreeing with each other, then finally coming up with a poorly-organised agenda, which people stick to for about a month before it gets canned or forgotten about. The answer is simple – keep it short and manageable. First, you need to choose a medium for your communication. Some prefer the more expensive print method, whereas others prefer to use material provided by their wholesaler. Whatever you decide, it needs to be quick and easy to amend. Email is usually the preferred route, so with this in mind you need to choose your delivery schedule. I wouldn’t recommend daily or monthly, but a fortnightly schedule gives you enough time to send a communication as well as to digest the outcome. In addition, it’s generally not considered ‘spammy’ by the recipients. If opting to communicate fortnightly, you need to think of 24 ideas to send out that will last you up until the end of the year. This is your chance to get those non-core services in front of your customers, so consider things like:  Furniture – things such as chairs, filing cabinets and shelving  Printing – most dealers can source and provide printing. Your printers might even provide artwork services, so why not tell you customers about it?  Promotional products – another service most dealers provide  Cleaning and catering – wholesalers have quite a big range of janitorial products  Compatible toners – do your customers know they could be saving money? Plus, compatibles carry a much higher margin than originals  IT accessories – do you know the IT manager at your customer’s organisation? They might be looking for keyboards, DVDs, mice, monitors – all of which you can source from regular suppliers. While there is often a lack of resources and time to dedicate to producing and sending out regular material, it is a necessity for your business in order to succeed and thrive. Outsourcing to an expert can help ensure professional and timely campaigns are sent, as well as saving time and energy. Whichever you choose, effective communication will help get your business – and its portfolio – out there for all to see. DS Andy Strevens is director of Big Atom, a specialist OP digital marketing agency – www.bigatom.co.uk


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management

ids league

Keep calm and

carry on In this second and concluding article, Martin Wilde of Martin Wilde Associates covers the remaining top line results from this year’s Independent Dealer Success League

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august 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk


ids league

T

he results of the 2011 Independent Dealer Success League signalled a steadier market, yielding improved performance in the channel, with last month’s analysis considering the overall figures. But to what extent has continuing difficult business conditions and the changing face of the supply channel impacted dealers’ assets and purchasing behaviour, and changed the profile of entrants?

Warehousing and stockholding Interestingly, only 57% of the IDS respondents this year claimed to have a warehouse, fewer than the 64% last year and significantly less than the 70% of the previous year. There seems to be a steady long-term decline in warehouse ownership, with this year’s entrants operating an average of 1.75 warehouses over 12,429 square feet, compared with 2010’s figure of two warehouses and an average of just 7,042 square feet. There is some evidence to suggest that the polarisation in the dealer channel – with dealers either having no warehouse, or a number of them – may be continuing, and half of applicants to the 2011 league have two or more warehouses, slightly up on the 43% from last year. Supportive of this ‘polarisation’ is that stockholding among entrants continues to increase. On average, 2011 entrants held £242k of stock, compared to £236k in last year’s survey and £152k the year before. These dealers with larger or more warehouses are clearly making them work harder. Stock turn figures increased from 28 in 2009 to 33 in 2010, with the 2011 number dropping to an average of 23. However, it should be noted that some turned stock over fewer than 20 times in 2010, others giving a figure of over 100 (the highest was 109).

Sourcing The IDS application process asks contributors to indicate their share of purchases from each potential source of supply. The following table gives this year’s dealer sample’s 2009 and 2010 figures (note these figures are not volume weighted and, as such, do not represent an estimate of overall UK dealer channel sourcing profiles):

dealers are focusing on what they see as ‘nuts and bolts’ issues at present, and are regarding environmental concerns as a sideshow as they emerge from the recession. The data collected backs this: only 20% claimed they had the ISO14001 management certification – although this is up on last year, when just 18% held the standard. Most of the remaining 80% hold no such award, with one dealership in the process of applying for ISO14001 at the time of submitting its IDS application. Asked what other formal initiatives they had undertaken, the vast majority of entrants admitted there were none. However, a small number of respondents gave very full answers to this question, including:  Eco-friendly dual-fuel or electric delivery vans  Using intelligent route analysis to keep van mileage and emissions down  Moving all clients to e-invoicing  Offering green audits to customers  Offering an environmental product range  Recycling returned customer toner and inkjet cartridges  Using returned stock internally  Equipping an eco-friendly building, including a grass roof, rain water harvesting then recycled to flush toilets, all lights on motion sensors and light sensors, and a heat exchange system for the servers  Creating environmental and sustainability teams to reduce the company’s environmental impact  Reducing plastic waste  Reducing packaging on internal orders  Reusing supplier pallets. Dealers were also asked what share of their cut paper sales was recycled, FSC or PEFC accredited. On average, just less than half (49%) of overall paper sales were eco-friendly compared with 60% last year. This did, however, vary substantially between dealers, with one reporting only five per cent and another claiming that recycled, FSC or PEFC-accredited products accounted for 95% of its cut paper sales. The Green Dealer application also asked how much of entrants’ printer cartridge sales were reclaimed for recycling, and this year, the average across all dealers that submitted this information was 41%. Again, there was wide disparity between the best and worst performing dealers, with one entrant reclaiming just five per cent of cartridge sales for recycling, others claiming in excess of 80%. The average amount of packaging waste reclaimed for recycling across dealers who supplied this information was 52% (compared to 66% last year), with – once again – a very wide differential between the figures entered by each dealer.

source

2009

2010

Office products wholesalers

52%

49%

Consumables wholesalers

12%

18%

Direct from manufacturers

16%

14%

Paper merchants

7%

6%

Furniture wholesalers

4%

3%

Factor

2009

2010

Dealer group warehouses

2%

2%

Sales value captured via e-commerce

36%

46%

Others

8%

8%

Internet business that is repeat orders

40%

38%

Total (rounded)

100%

100%

Site visitors per month

20,265

32,265

Conversion rate

40%

30%

Website visitors directed from search engines

31%

48%

The table shows differences in purchasing behaviour between 2009 and 2010: dependency on OP wholesalers has decreased, while average dealer usage of consumables wholesalers has risen markedly, which could be a cause of the increased stockholding. The decline in dependency on furniture wholesalers is understandable given the collapse in demand as end-user capital spend falls. In addition, 2011 entrants appear to be more dependent on manufacturers and less so on paper merchants than their 2010 counterparts.

Environmental credentials A relatively new category in the IDS League is ‘Green Dealer of the Year’. However, only 40% of this year’s entrants submitted data for this category (45% last year). This supports conjecture following last year’s league that

Web Dealer of the Year Another recent category in the IDS League is ‘Web Dealer of the Year’. The table below summarises the average results (unweighted) across the sample this time:

The table shows that virtually all of these indicators are continuing the increase that was noted in IDS 2010. E-commerce penetration of total sales is now approaching 50% and monthly site visits are up substantially, as is traffic from search engines. However, it is interesting to note that repeat business rates are slightly down among this year’s entrants, while conversion rates have also fallen. Both these factors tend to indicate a greater incidence of online browsing/ price comparison among customers, suggesting that the e-commerce battle is now being seriously fought. DS

www.dealersupport.co.uk august 2011

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management

advice Top tips

10 Steps to office efficiency With sustainability becoming ever more important for businesses, we bring you 10 quick wins for office efficiency

Electricity consumption 1. Check that buildings have adequate insulation and draft proofing. 2. Do not overheat or overcool your office. Maintain a constant temperature – between 20 and 24 degrees C is recommended. Reducing the temperature of a room by a single degree can reduce the heating bill by as much as 10%. 3. Think about energy consumption when buying new equipment, and look out for those that meet recognised standards such as Energy Star. Machines – generally, laptops and flat screens are more efficient than desktop PCs and older monitors. Activate power down modes and switch devices off overnight. Lighting – compact lamps and slimline tubes are more efficient than incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes.

Water consumption 4. Push button taps in washrooms and kitchens ensure that taps can’t be left running accidentally. Reduce water used for flushing toilets by implementing water displacement devices, which might be available free of charge from your water company.

Paper consumption 5. Encourage staff to use less paper by printing only when absolutely necessary. Set printers to print double-sided by default. Half of the waste offices produce is paper, and the average office worker uses up to 100 sheets of paper every day.

Recycle 6. Check your bins! Many items that are thrown out with the general waste can be routinely recycled, including paper, printer and toner cartridges, mobile phones, batteries and IT waste. Place recycling bins next to copiers and printers, keeping confidential waste separate to be shredded.

Buy green 7. As well as selling environmentally friendlier products, buy and use them yourself.

Consider placing recycling bins next to every waste bin in the office if feasible. If you dispose of unwanted furniture, offer it to neighbouring offices or look into local exchange schemes: one man’s waste is another man’s gold.

Travel green 8. Encourage staff to minimise travel and cut unnecessary or costly journeys altogether. Car sharing and cycle to work schemes can be an effective solution, and consider telephone and videoconferencing where practicable. Lead by example.

Champion a champion 9. Identify an environmental champion in your office and ensure they have support in driving initiatives throughout the business. Consider running an awareness campaign and continue to promote schemes.

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august 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

Check your performance 10. Fully embrace the agenda yourself and lead by example. Benchmark your own performance as an incentive for others to follow suit. Envirowise publishes a range of key performance indicators – like paper usage per person – that can help. Visit www.envirowise.wrap.org.uk.


advertorial

Sharp seeks talent through licensee scheme

S

harp is launching an innovative licensee scheme that offers the opportunity for people to run their own document solutions business. the scheme targets talented salespeople currently working outside of the ‘sharp family’ who want to have their own business but lack the capital, experience or risk appetite to take the initial step. sharp will help with setting up the company, and will then process orders for sharp’s award-winning multifunction devices, printers, solutions and managed print services. sharp will also provide servicing, and take care of billing and revenue collection. a standout advantage of the scheme is that the customer and service bases will belong to the licensee. after three years, the licensee will be offered the opportunity to convert into a full dealership. marcus i’anson, sharp’s uk director of information systems, comments: “this is an extremely exciting venture, and is a unique proposition in the industry. for us, it offers the rare chance to develop an entirely new channel to market. for salespeople with drive who want to take on the challenge of running their own business but don’t see how to begin, this represents a golden opportunity.”

For more information, please contact: Jeremy Brown 07808 479082 Jeremy.brown@sharp.eu


management

technology

Digital fingerprints for increased sales The latest technology enables businesses to capture important information about online prospects and turn visitors into buyers. Marketing expert Matt Hall explains how

L

ike a thief in the night, visitors to your website arrive from who knows where, get what they want and leave without a trace. You may not notice they have been there or they may leave the digital equivalent of the imprint of their trainers on the drive – but it’s not enough to get a conviction and, in web marketing terms, it’s not enough to get you a sale. Now imagine if you could digitally ‘fingerprint’ visitors to your website. Better still, if you could carry out the web version of a digital fingerprint or DNA profile on them. How powerful would that be? How many more sales would you be able to make by having that in-depth knowledge and understanding of these potential customers? However, a prospect’s ‘fingerprint’ left on a website will soon disappear if not dealt with quickly. Fortunately, there is now the ability to build and act on this knowledge to help nurture customer relationships and drive sales. Checking movements With access to vast amounts of online information, reviews and resources, customers can quietly, and in most cases anonymously, research and make buying decisions without you even knowing they were interested in your product. To date, the IP address of the visitor has been a clue to their identity and profile, but no guarantee. Most websites will capture some part of the digital fingerprint – such as enquiries – but these can be low volume, typically less than one per cent of your traffic. It’s the high volume researching prospects that need to be tapped into to really see the benefit, and this can now be achieved through tagging and tracking technology. This tagging and ongoing ‘surveillance’ develops the fingerprint into a digital DNA profile as it digs deeper into the behaviour of your website visitors. The latest technology lets you see where they visited before arriving at your site, what keywords they used to find you, which pages they looked at, what resources they have downloaded, how long they stayed on the site and even more importantly – when they return. The rules of engagement Companies that build a website and hope that business will come flooding their way are deluding themselves. Of the thousands of visitors, maybe one per cent will follow any call to action if you fail to engage with them proactively.

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august 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk

Imagine if you could digitally ‘fingerprint’ visitors to your website. Better still, if you could carry out the web version of a digital fingerprint or DNA profile on them. How powerful would that be?


technology

W

e often hear: ‘We have a form on our website so we know who is interested’. What they don’t have though is the ability to tag prospects at that point. Let’s say you manage to get a small percentage of your web visitors to fill in a form. In reality though, how many of them are ready to buy? How many of your enquiry forms that are filled in are done for research with no real buying intent from a prospect? When they return to your website four months later as a prospect with serious intent, will you know they are there? What can you do to stop them going to a competitor’s website and buying from your arch rivals? You have no idea if a suspect comes back to your website unless you have their ‘fingerprint’. Identifying who comes to your site is an important first step but monitoring how they interact with the site is vital in driving up sales. It is this knowledge that allows you to engage with them, building and nurturing the relationship for the future. Reading the buyer’s digital DNA Over the last decade, the buying process has seen a seismic shift as customers can research and make decisions before they ever talk to a salesperson – which is often the last step. As a result, understanding the digital DNA is critical to identifying where the customer is in the buying cycle. Essentially, salespeople now need to take a step into the marketing world to understand prospects and then contact them before they make their decision, using their skills to convert the sale. By recognising where the prospect came from, where their interest lies, how often they visited the site, and more, the sales team is far better equipped to more effectively communicate with the customer throughout the buying cycle. This puts them in a far stronger position to win the sale, with prospects that feel valued and understood.

Companies that build a website and hope that business will come flooding their way are deluding themselves. Of the thousands of visitors, maybe one per cent will follow any call to action if you fail to engage with them proactively Timing is everything A prospect simply visiting a site and downloading a document is not really in the market to purchase, but they may be at the start of the buying cycle and over the next few months, through various sales and marketing communications, they will move to a point where purchasing may be more realistic. The ability to contact prospects at the optimal time is key to the success of the future sale. It would be pointless for sales to call the prospect after they had already bought from a

competitor, but by understanding the digital fingerprint your salespeople will be able to recognise when and why to contact your potential new customers. As a result, the communication can be tailored, delivering a far stronger message, and a higher conversion rate – which in turn generates growing revenue. Keep in touch In selling, the moment you take your eye off a prospect the circumstances can change and they are in a position to buy. Budget may have been approved or they may have won a new contract. You have to keep them on your radar but there needs to be a balance in how much resource you can devote to this. By automating the process of staying in touch you can manage this contact effectively – and cost-effectively – enabling your salespeople to focus on those prospects most likely to buy at each moment in time.

I

n short, by monitoring the browsing activity of prospects businesses can build greater intelligence and start tailoring campaigns that match the exact DNA profiles of these potential customers. Imagine how much more receptive you are to marketing and sales messages that match your needs at that moment in time. The latest technology offers this knowledge and potential, and in challenging times those who capture the digital fingerprints are the ones who will survive, grow and prosper. DS

Matt Hall is MD of marketing automation and demand generation specialist Profunnel

Digital DNA Keyword/Initial Enquiry

Source

Contact details

Pages Visits

Return Visits No of times

Returns Visits pages

Length of Visits

Visitor Score

Value of Sale

Enquiry

www.dealersupport.co.uk august 2011

35


Break time Need to exercise those grey cells? Here are a few head scratchers to get you thinking…

CRYPTIC CROSSWORD 1

2

3

4

10

5

6

7

8

9

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

19

18

20

21

24

22

23

25

ACROSS 1 Seed that follows command to open? (6) 5 Takes a break, having a day in France surrounded by rolling sand (8) 10 Made a phone call and spoke (4) 11 Enrage a repeat sex pervert (10) 12 Grain, and what to do with it, we hear? (6) 13 Gave someone a ring and made a suggestion (8) 14 Recent recruit finally deserts to fight in irregular army becoming this? (9) 18 Secured return of silver money... (5) 19 ...money that gives difficulty to the French (5) 20 Experienced peacekeepers found west of the river (9) 24 Steps taken by those who get their skates on? (3, 5) 25 Drink some Schweppes with liqueur (6) 26 External cell tissue in nerve-ending to trap gas (10) 27 I happen to kiss a goat! (4) 28 Government department makes attempt to conceal a ruse that’s gone wrong (8) 29 Neat drives (6)

DOWN

History

Anatomy

What is the smallest bone in the human body?

2 Learned English and Italian in an uncultured environment (7) 3 This does not describe a posh girl who is in prison endlessly (7) 4 Merseyside? (7) 6 As was Troy by Greeks, ultimately, in action (9) 7 Maiden perhaps might get the upper hand (9) 8 Drove, we hear, with good judgement - showing this (4-5) 9 Firm has to rearrange dates quickly (9) 14 In 1999, make a mistake over English books – causing hilarity (9) 15 Upstanding father wears short protective coat with elastic material (9) 16 They’re discovered by pupils (9) 17 Describes a Dutchman giving rebuke kindly? (9) 21 Their properties should be permanently frozen (7) 22 Martial law upheld without resistance by Eisenhower( 7) 23 Fallout can be expected from this type of family? (7)

Sport

Geography

For answers, visit http://www.dealersupport.co.uk/issue/

Set by Alberich

26

27

28

29

Pub Quiz

What was the name of William Shakespeare’s eldest child?

Darren Clarke won last month’s Golf Open after how many unsuccessful attempts?

At 656,425 square miles, what is the largest state in the United States of America?

Number crunching Answers: History − Susana; Sport − 19; Anatomy − Stapes (middle ear); Geography − Alaska

Wordsmith How many words of three letters or more can you make from the following letters?

K

C

I

H

N

E

C

15 words – good | 20 words – great | 25 or more – excellent To find out how Dealer Support did, visit http://www.dealersupport.co.uk/issue/

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5 6

2 3 8 1 8 5 8 5 9 7 9 7 3 2 4 9 2 6 3 7 8 9 5 6 7 8 5 1 4

august 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk


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FINAL wORD

Does the channel have the expertise, time, commitment and skill to genuinely change their sales structure from transactional to a solution sale?

Is MPS all about ME? Phil Jones Sales and marketing director Brother UK

M

anaged print services (MPS) promise to cause changes in the printer market for hardware and supplies businesses. While this might be a welcome challenge for some resellers, I think it is fair to say that others may be heading for a ‘state of emergency’. Everyone knows MPS will come down from the enterprise level as the direct players look for new customers, but the important question is: Does the channel have the expertise, time, commitment and skill to genuinely change their sales structure from transactional to a solution

sale? In essence, it’s like turning the industry clock back 20 years and relying on a salesperson to build, present and close a business case.

The heavily saturated enterprise end of the market is already impacting resellers who are not only losing EOS business to the major MPS players selling direct in large accounts, but now face losing a large portion of their income from their medium enterprise customers as the direct players move down the funnel. So how do they combat this and what are the options for resellers if they are to survive? One of the ways they can work against these changes is by making MPS work to their advantage. The big opportunity is the ‘ME’ of the SME market. While the small businesses don’t necessarily generate high enough volumes of printing to make an MPS system viable, ‘medium enterprises’ are where resellers can really make an impact. These organisations are still looking for options to streamline their print processes and are most likely to welcome a printer MPS agreement for cost transparency and efficiency. Resellers have the opportunity to get in there first and, working directly with channel-centric vendors, sell the benefits of a printer MPS agreement. By doing this they can circle the wagons around their customers and forward contract EOS revenues for years. This means far more time being invested in a consultative sales approach, but resellers will have to take these changes seriously if they are to sustain long-term, profitable EOS contracts with their customers. DS

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august 2011 www.dealersupport.co.uk


r u o lspace o C my

Win a complete Samsung Entertainment package!* Buy a Samsung Rainbow Pack Toner* before 31st October 2011 for your chance to win.

Get colourful with your printing and you could win a complete fully installed Samsung home entertainment package. Plus there is a whole host of runner up prizes up for grabs too. All you have to do is buy select rainbow toner or twin packs*, or a full set of four colour Samsung toner cartridges for any Samsung Printer or MFP, or any two of the same Samsung black laser cartridge.

Visit samsung.com/uk/colourmyspace for details of how to enter *Offer period starts from 1st May to 31st October 2011 inclusive. Only qualifying products purchased within these dates are eligible for this promotion. Proof of purchase is required upon entry. Entries must be received no later than 11th November 2011. See full terms and conditions at www.samsung.com/uk/colourmyspace


august 2011

NEWS INSPIRING BUSINESS SOLUTIONS FOR DEALERS

Dealer reaches £4m in four years

R

eseller Pure Data Solutions is smashing growth targets and accelerating sales by 50% to achieve a £4.8m turnover just four years after launching. Milestone developments in the last 12 months for the Farsley-based specialist IT reseller and managed services provider include doubling its workforce, achieving the ISO 9001 quality standard and injecting £30,000 into staff training and development to further enhance customer service. Over the last year, the 19-strong company has won almost 200 new accounts and further developed its consultancy provision. Its customer portfolio encompasses global life insurance and pensions’ provider AEGON, Boots, JD Sports and public sector organisations spanning universities and further and higher education establishments. Further expansion for PDS, which provides consultancy, lifecycle solutions and networks along with data centre infrastructure, includes taking on an additional 2,000 sq ft in its existing premises for a dedicated IT support department which will be launched in January 2012. Founder and MD Stephen O’Brien – whose commitment to ‘putting something back’ sees him fundraising for the Yorkshire Cancer Research Charity in this year’s Great North Run – attributes the company’s success to great teamwork, sustaining long-term customer relationships and rewarding staff achievements. “It’s tremendous that we continue to buck the trend for the fourth consecutive year and our strong performance is attributable to our fantastic team and their commitment and buy in,” said O’Brien. “Ongoing recruitment remains a priority as we seek out the best people who reflect our fun and hard working team culture. “We’re also committed to practicing what we preach – as reinforced in our investment in a multi-million pound backoffice IT system, which will go live in September and will further enhance our quality service to our valued customers.” Punching above their weight: the Pure Data Solutions team

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DEALER SUPPORT NEWS

OFDA goes for gold again!

O

ffice Friendly has been nominated for a prestigious National Business Award alongside big-hitters BSkyB, Debenhams and Majestic Wine. The dealer group, which is up for the ICAEW Sustainability Award, has been working in conjunction with Carbon Smart to develop its So-Go-Eco programme, aimed at helping dealers and their customers to become greener and more profitable. Two-thirds of OFDA’s 140 members have so far adopted the scheme, which calculates a firm’s carbon footprint, provides tailored guidelines to reduce it and offers a standard, silver or gold accreditation as reward. Bradfordbased paper company, Premier Vanguard, has been one of a string of So-Go-Eco success stories, making an annual saving of £15,000 by cutting fuel and utility bills, as well as changing their production processes. OFDA staff will head to London to deliver a Dragons’ Den-style presentation at the capital’s iconic Gherkin building, before attending a gala dinner on 8 November addressed by Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. MD Steve Harrop said: “The National Business Awards really are the business Oscars and we’re delighted to be among such illustrious company. The nomination is vindication for all the hard work our team has put into developing a scheme that is unique in our industry and, we believe, in the UK SME sector. “The focus of carbon reduction has been on larger companies but the majority of businesses in the UK are SMEs and often, they don’t have the right tools or support. “It’s not rocket science – it’s common sense, but we’re providing a co-ordinated scheme that helps smaller businesses cut costs, boost their profits and help the environment, as well as giving their staff the feel-good factor.” OFDA won the Environmental Impact Award for the So-Go-Eco scheme at the 2011 Sheffield Business Awards, the second year running it has picked up the accolade.

Steve Harrop, MD

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in brief ... Superstat

Euroffice buys UK Office Direct

O

nline office supplies company Euroffice, backed by Darwin Private Equity, has acquired UK Office Direct Limited. The online dealer has grown strongly since it was founded in 2002 to reach turnover of over £6m. The websites for Euroffice and UK Office Direct will continue to operate under their respective brands. Simon Drakeford, CEO of Euroffice, commented: “The acquisition of UK Office Direct confirms our position as the UK’s leading online office supplies business

serving the SME market. Michael and Aileen have built a successful business and we look forward to working with them to continue to drive UK Office Direct’s growth.” Michael Griffin, founder of UK Office Direct, said: “We are delighted to have built UK Office Direct into a business of scale and strong profitability. Now is the appropriate time for us to pass it on to new ownership and we look forward to working with Simon and the Euroffice team to ensure the smooth integration of the business.”

Almo’s boots were made for walking

A

team of women from Almo Office – known as the Almo Babes – has raised over £15,000 for a breast cancer charity after completing the 26-mile London Moonwalk. The sponsorship money has now been collected and counted following the event in May and totals an impressive £15,402 – more than two and half times their original target of £6,000. The girls walked to raise money for the breast cancer charity, Walkthewalk, along with 15,000 others. Almo’s team comprised 14 ladies, who undertook gruelling training schedules in order to complete the full 26-mile London course by moonlight for the good cause.

Almo Office has been thanking all those who sponsored the team. All those wishing to donate are asked to contact Christine Walsh at Almo on 020 7635 3500.

OFFICE FRIENDLY DEALER ASSOCIATION AND XEROX OFFICE SUPPLIES

A new Superstat Group website, incorporating the three divisions – Superstat, Office Biz and Praxis – under one website for the first time in the group’s history, was launched earlier this month. With a fresh new look and relevant, up-to-date content, members will now find new additions including enhanced product search facility, the ability to order marketing online plus up news from the Superstat team and the wider industry through the use of new RSS feeds.

SMEs

Aberystwyth and Bangor universities are setting up a fund to invest in Welsh SMEs and help in the commercialisation of research in midand north Wales. If approved, the institutions could launch the fund in early 2012 with £2m. The universities are seeking support from a variety of other organisations including the Welsh government. The funding would come from many sources including private equity. This initiative is part of the strategic alliance announced by both institutions in early February following pressure on higher education institutions to collaborate more.

JGBM

Specialist machines distributor JGBM has expanded its Plymouth warehousing and distribution centre. Announcing the new warehouse extension, MD John George said: “Despite the economic downturn we’re pleased to have maintained healthy profitable growth. In supporting our customers pre-sale and post-sale it is important to ensure we have sufficient stock at all times to satisfy demand and the new facility provides a 100% increase in stock capacity with greater buying power too.”


DEALER SUPPORT NEWS

Spicers’ final mile plan Springs up

S

picers has unveiled details of its final mile logistics operation, aimed at helping dealers in and around major city hubs to attract high-value contract business. The new subdivision, called Spring, will be serviced from a number of new stocking units and provide same-day or next-day delivery within these urban areas. The first 10,000 sq ft unit in Beckton, east London, will be operational by the end of October. Spicers will partner six to 10 local dealers that have accounts in the London area and that will pay an annual fee for their involvement. Spicers will also invest in a salesperson who will support in corporate pitches and qualify leads. Leads generated will be posted to the partnering dealers, which will have to fight it out among themselves to win the contract.

MD Alan Ball commented: “We don’t want to take business away from our existing Spicers dealers. We want to make sure we qualify the lead and minimise that as much as possible. “As a true wholesaler we have no intention of exposing ourselves to an end-user market. We just want to create a facility for our dealers to be able to secure that business.” Ball admitted, however, that one local dealer that has been consulted is vehemently opposed to the plan. The Beckton prototype will be supported by significant marketing spend on top of the estimated £200k capital investment to construct the facility and additional £200k running costs. Spicers hopes that, through the scheme, it will attract via its resellers a larger share of the £1.68bn of office products sales available inside the M25, only £55-60m of which it currently serves.

Distie in fundraising events

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istributor Micro-P has participated in a series of fundraising events for two charity organisations based in the UK. Micro-P directors and employees rolled up their sleeves, swapped their business attire for hiking boots, gardening gloves and wellingtons for the Naomi House Director’s Dig, MEGAHIKE and the National Three Peaks Challenge, raising funds for Naomi House Children’s Hospice, Micro-P’s nominated local charity in Hampshire, and MedEquip4kids, a charity that provides equipment for local hospitals to support the medical treatment of children across the north of England. Combined, the three events generated £20,000 for the charities, as well as £3,000’s worth of donated computer hardware for staff and children to use. All 10 Micro-P directors turned their hands to gardening, pond clearing, sweeping, digging and helping out around the

gardens at Naomi House Children’s Hospice, generating £10,000 for the charity, together with a selection of donated computer hardware for staff and children to use. One of the toughest team challenges within the UK, MEGAHIKE is a 50-mile hike along the Pennine Way. In June, a team of Micro-P employees trekked from sunrise to sunset and in the space of 24 hours to cover the long distance, raising over £3,802 and rising for MedEquip4Kids. In April, a Micro-P team completed the National Three Peaks Challenge, which involves climbing Snowdon in Wales (1,085m), Scafell Pike in England (978m) and Ben Nevis in Scotland (1,344m) within 24 hours. Overall, the team covered over 26 miles, walked for over 14 hours and endured 10 hours of driving and 9,700 feet of ascent. Their commitment and dedication raised over £2,500 for Naomi House Children’s Hospice, Winchester, Hampshire.

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in brief ... Spicers

katun moves print to the cloud

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EM-compatible imaging supplies vendor Katun is helping dealers access managed print services (MPS) by adopting a cloud computing solution for its MPS programme, Katun Dealer Fleet Management. General manager of strategic development at Katun EMEA said: “There are so many benefits for our dealers with this highly secured cloud computing solution. “The access is secured via internet and there are no additional costs associated in terms of IT management, IT equipment or server renewal and ongoing maintenance fees. “These are among other benefits from our dedicated MPS solution to the dealers.” Katun Dealer Fleet Management enables the remote management of copiers, printers and MFPs from all OEM printing systems. It allows dealers to automate and simplify Meta reading collection, toner and service alerts, and remotely manage its copier, printer and MFP fleets. It is available in western Europe.

Synaxon holds conference

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ealer group Synaxon has announced the line-up of speakers and sponsors for its inaugural UK member conference in September. Leading motivational speaker Sean McPheat will provide the keynote address on the theme of Making Business Easy, setting the tone for the two-day conference and networking event, which takes place at the prestigious De Vere Wychwood Park hotel and golf complex in Cheshire on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 September 2011. McPheat, whose book eselling is one of the top-selling business books in the UK, will be joined by global security

evangelist, Eddy Willems and key members of Synaxon’s plc executive board from Germany via pre-recorded video. There will also be presentations from headline sponsors of the event, Acer and Fujitsu, as well as reviews of Synaxon’s exclusive deals from ETC and Autotask. All talks and presentations will take place on the first day with a summer barbeque and live music laid on for the evening, and a golf day scheduled for those who wish to take part on the second. All Synaxon UK’s 690-plus members are being invited to attend the conference where Synaxon will be presenting awards.

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Spicers has promoted Jeanette Bresitz to the new role of director of marketing services. Bresitz will continue to report to UK merchandising director John Fenton and work with Tom Rodda, UK sales director, in the ongoing development of the Synergy programme. The role also encompasses internal and external business communications. Reporting directly into Bresitz are Hemant Das, head of online marketing; Gary Kirkbright, senior promotions manager and Amanda Murray, dealer marketing manager.

BOSS

The Boss Federation has appointed Mark Knibbs, director of sales for Pentel, as the vice chairman of its Manufacturers Forum; he also becomes a non-executive director of the Boss Federation board. Following the resignation of Gareth Farrell of 3M as chairman of the Manufacturers Forum due to a promotion within 3M into another market sector, Sean Starkey, MD of Durable UK, the vice chairman, becomes the chairman from September.

Westcoast

IT distributor Westcoast sponsored the UK Party at the 2011 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) last month. As one of only four fullyauthorised commercial Microsoft distributors in the UK, Westcoast said it was “proud to be part of this prestigious worldwide event”. WPC 2011 gave partners the opportunity to gain insights into the Microsoft business and technology roadmap for the coming 12 months and beyond, covering sessions from headline keynote speakers and showcasing new Microsoft product launches.


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stelJes aDDs eire space

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echnology distributor Steljes has increased its investment in Ireland with the employment of additional personnel and relocating to new larger offices in Dublin. Caroline Mohan has been appointed office manager to help with the increased demand the company is experiencing for its solutions. She will be responsible for dealing with reseller enquiries and demonstrating the latest technologies in the Steljes portfolio. She joins Steljes from J.J. Rhatigan, where she was office manager. As part of the company’s expansion programme in Ireland, Steljes has relocated to a new, larger office in the prestigious Baldonnell Business Park in Dublin.

The office has demonstration facilities that include all the latest technologies such as Smart Board interactive whiteboards and panels, AverComm video conferencing solutions, projectors, student laptops and visualisers. This facility is open to all Steljes’ resellers to use free of charge so that they can host their customers and demonstrate the latest technologies available. “The new office supports our continued growth in Ireland,” said Greg Tierney, commercial director at Steljes Ireland. “We have hired new staff as we continue to scale the business to keep up with demand.”

midwich returns to ascot

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he Midwich group have confirmed the date and venue of its annual showcase, Technology Exposed. The show will host stands from up to 80 of the world’s leading brands and present new profit opportunities from AV, print, CCTV security, barcode solutions, connectivity and home automation. The show will allow resellers to discuss managed print offerings, see Samsung’s world fastest mono laser printer and Brother’s EMIS/ Cerner accredited printer. Along with more specialised market opportunities such as barcode solutions from Honeywell, Casio, Koamtac, Toshiba Tec, Unitech and Zebra. There will also be new launches from Honeywell and the re- launch of Zebra’s card printers. Alex Ward, commercial director at Midwich, said: “All our high profile print vendors will be attending the event again this year along with our two new print vendors Panasonic and Dell.” Technology Exposed will take place on the 21 and 22 September 2011 at Ascot Racecourse between 10am-4pm. For more information visit www.technology-exposed.com or call 01379 649200.

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n MPs’ committee report on government IT spending found the public sector could save a fortune by using SME IT suppliers. The report, titled ‘A recipe for rip-offs: time for a new approach’, stated that the overreliance on a cartel of large IT firms has resulted in successive governments wasting a massive amount of public money on IT procurement, with projects described as “late”, “over-budget” and “unfit for purpose”. It also found that outsourcing its IT services means the government does not have an acceptable level of knowledge of its own IT

systems, and warned that Whitehall will be “doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past” unless it deals with IT suppliers better and improves the way it benchmarks costs across departments. In 2009, Labour spent £16bn in IT projects. Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to end the era of vast government IT projects that he said had dominated Labour’s time in power. The report recommended that government departments source their IT needs from SMEs to avoid being ripped off, following claims that departments had paid IT contractors seven to 10 times the going standard rate.

Midwich ID division moves

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T and AV distributor Midwich has announced that its specialist auto ID division, Synergix, will join them at their headquarters in Diss, Norfolk. The move means Synergix will be well placed to support the traditional auto ID channel as well as working more strategically in the IT reseller space. As part of Midwich, Synergix will remain a specialist dedicated auto ID division, promoting auto ID products, EPOS, mobile computing and data collection technologies to the auto ID and IT channel. Midwich plans to build

on the existing vendor portfolio with complimentary partners, to introduce a strong internal sales and management team and to provide more value services to their customer base. Existing customers will still enjoy Synergix’s comprehensive range of brands and products, real time stock availability, central warehousing, local demonstration availability, personalised trade pricing, the latest product promotions and news, secure online ordering, innovative selection of e-trading solutions and marketing support and resources.

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public sector turns to indies to save

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It is of little surprise that finance professionals believe their organisations are more likely to take the green agenda seriously if the government provides financial incentives or enforces UK-wide environmental legislation for businesses. Without a compelling ‘reason to act’, organisations will continue to drop the green agenda Julian Buck, MD, Version One

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Integra envelope Initiative

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ntegra has announced a reduction on Initiative envelopes, giving members a further competitive advantage. The Initiative envelope range, available from Antalis McNaughton, Spicers and VOW, has increased in 2011 with additional lines being brought in for retail and smaller commercial pack sizes. Antalis McNaughton was awarded the business back in 2005 and has now sealed a two-year extension to the contract. Neil Basham, Integra’s purchasing director, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce this reduction to members and also to award the contract to Antalis McNaughton. The team at Antalis provides excellent customer service and product support which we would like to thank them for on behalf of our members.” Tim Percival, Antalis McNaughton’s office national director, added: “The market has seen a general decline in envelope volumes over recent years with a switch over to emails and electronic media. The Initiative envelope brand has maintained strong levels of growth, even during this general decline. “Working closely with our chosen manufacturers and GM2 logistics we have been able to realise some supply chain efficiencies that will provide an even more favourable cost base. I am sure this will help us to maintain the strong level of sales to Integra members.”

Experienced Trangmar joins VOW

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OW has appointed Mia Trangmar to the role of regional director south east. Trangmar will joins the business next month and brings with her over 20 years’ industry experience of sales team management in both B2B and B2C

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channels, with specific successes across the SME marketplace and corporate arena. She will take responsibility for the VOW south east region supported by Louise Cambridge, Luigi Frige, Elaine Crees and Rhona Joy, who will all report directly to her.

MD Adrian Butler said: “I am delighted to welcome Mia to the senior team at VOW. Mia’s experience, enthusiasm and knowledge of the EOS and office supplies marketplace makes her an ideal addition to the team.” Trengmar will start her new role from 30 August.

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Dealer Support August 2011  

Dealer Support August 2011 edition

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