Dealer Support December digital edition 2021

Page 1


December 2021

Issue 316


inspiring success

Four wise men Four experienced industry heads gave their perspectives on the current state of the office supplies sector, and its future, at the Dealer Support Live event

BROAD SPECTRUM APPROACH Spectrum on rebranding and their ambitious growth plan

A MAN OF PRINCIPLE Toby Robins on putting the planet first

CUSTOMER TRENDS FOR 2022 How dealers can capitalise on the latest trends

Wishing our fantastic employees, customers and suppliers a wonderful festive season. Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to working with you in 2022. We’ve launched our biggest ever Christmas incentive to wish our partners a very Merry Christmas. Why not visit and see if you’re a winner.

Wishing a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year to all of our Customers. Thank you everyone for your continued support.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year in 2022, from all the team at Sealed Air.

Seasons greetings and best wishes to you all from everyone at Antalis, we look forward to working with you together for a prosperous 2022.

THANK YOU and Merry Christmas to all our CIG customers. We appreciate your continued loyalty and wish you a prosperous, safe and happy year ahead.

Merry Christmas to all our customers and partners. Thank you for your continued support and wishing you every success for 2022. From the team at Prima

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all our friends in the office products industry.

Thanks to all of our customers for their continued support in 2021. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wishingall allour ourreaders readersaa Wishing very Merry Christmas very Merry Christmas andaaprosperous prosperous2022. 2022. and Thanks for your Thanks for your support. support.

We wish our customers, suppliers & competitors a wonderful Christmas. Here’s to a prosperous New Year for the channel.

We would like to thank all our customers for your continued support during 2021. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from everyone at Dams Furniture.

Thank you to all our members and key partners for their support this year! We look forward to working with you in 2022. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the team at Integra. Thank you for welcoming us so kindly into the office products market and we look forward to working with you all in 2022.

We would like to wish all of our customers a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. We look forward to working with you in 2022.

All the best wishes from the Tombow team Stay healthy and safe, see you all in 2022 Maurice, Barry, Mike.

We would like to wish all our members and suppliers a Merry Christmas and prosperous 2022. Thank you for your support. #KeepItLocal

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to our partners, customers and friends from the EvolutionX and FusionPlus Data teams - see you on t’other side!



It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The festive season is here - which means we have finally made it to the end of 2021 and, I’m sure we can all agree, we’ll be glad to see the back of it. Christmas cheer is exactly what we all need after another challenging year and, as Buddy the Elf says: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” So whether you fancy yourself as a bit of a Mariah Carey, enjoy a bit of Wham!, or like to keep it traditional with some Bing Crosby, it’s time to crank up the Christmas tunes and sing your heart out! You have all earned a well-deserved break and I hope Santa delivers the presents you have written on your Christmas list. To celebrate all-things Christmas we have a LIVE IT Christmas special to really get you feeling jolly! We also speak to four wise men (we seemed to have Four gained an extra one!) who give their perspectives on the current and future state wise men of the office supplies sector. A bit less Christmassy, but still full of joviality, we speak to Toby Robins about his passion for sustainability and how pushing the green agenda is not only good for the planet, but also dealers’ bottom lines. As we look to a new year, we explore the challenges and opportunities that 2022 is likely to bring and we grab our crystal ball to predict the customer trends and product lines that will be popular in the new year. Speaking of all things new, Spectrum talk to us about their recent rebrand and their plan to grow the business. Alex Dunn gives us our FINAL WORD and discusses how you can keep your customers satisfied despite the supply chain issues you may face. That’s a lot, but we have plenty more in our final issue of the year. As always, don’t forget to chat to us on Twitter and let us know your thoughts and opinions: @dealersupport. As it’s my final editor’s comment of the year, I’d just like to take the time to wish you all a very merry Christmas, a happy New Year and thank you for your support in 2021! I look forward to speaking to you all again in 2022! December 2021

Issue 316

inspiring success

BROAD SPECTRUM APPROACH Spectrum on rebranding and their ambitious growth plan

A MAN OF PRINCIPLE Toby Robins on putting the planet first

Four experienced industry heads gave their perspectives on the current state of the office supplies sector, and its future, at the Dealer Support Live event

CUSTOMER TRENDS FOR 2022 How dealers can capitalise on the latest trends

Ellie Potter Acting editor


CREATIVE TEAM Amanda Lancaster


DIRECTOR Vicki Baloch

HEAD OF SALES Matthew Moore All email addresses are formatted

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

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Contents INDUSTRY 08 NEWS AND VIEWS The latest news and views from the industry


Industry experts give their views on the state of the office supplies sector



Toby Robins on putting the planet first

20 NEW HORIZONS – EXPECTATIONS FOR 2022 New year, new challenges, new opportunities

DEALER SUCCESS 24 BROAD SPECTRUM APPROACH Spectrum on rebranding and their ambitious growth plan


How dealers can capitalise on the latest trends



Take a break and enjoy some lighthearted fun


The good Father reflects, and looks forward to a new year


Managing supply chain issues

28 “We would encourage members to monitor their key performance indicators more regularly and have a short-term action plan.”




THE MONTH THAT WAS Steve Harrop joins Nectere Nectere has appointed Steve Harrop as head of commercial. He brings with him impressive knowledge of, and passion for, the business supplies market, gained from more than 39 years in the industry.

Olin Origins and Keaykolour take centre stage in Christmas display

Adrian Reid, sales director at Nectere, said: “I’m so pleased Steve is joining the business. His experience and enthusiasm for the industry is commendable, and we’re excited for Steve to get involved in

Antalis has collaborated with Mayfair-based bespoke stationery provider

strengthening and enhancing our

Mount Street Printers on its Christmas window installation.

commercial relationships.”

Entitled ‘Deck the Halls’, the window design is a celebration of the landmarks, spaces and memories that Christmas often evokes; it is also a

Steve added: “I can’t wait to get

celebration of the beauty of paper, the product at the core of the Mount

involved with Nectere. Even in such

Street Printers’ business.

a short space of time, I’ve learned

At the heart of the window display is a model of the Mount Street Printers shop and building, meticulously crafted down to the finest detail in Olin Origins Chalk, and displayed on a resplendent red base made from Keaykolour Guardsman Red. The model of the shop, which contains a replica of the ‘Deck the Halls’

so much and understood just how this business is exceptional, and how it has some real advantages. The future’s bright for dealers who

window display in miniature - complete with lighting, is set against a backdrop

are involved with Nectere, but

of some of London’s best-known landmarks, including St Paul’s Cathedral, The

those who aren’t should have a

Shard and the London Eye, also handcrafted in Olin Origins Chalk.

look, because not only is it exciting,

Designed and produced by Joyanne Horscroft of Makerie Studio, who has created paper window installations for the likes of Omega, Mappin & Webb and Fabergé, the design for the Antalis-Mount Street Printers collaboration is also a nod to Mount Street Printers’ customers, many of

it’s delivering exceptional and innovative support for businesses. There aren’t many unique

whom have been buying the store’s premium Christmas cards since the shop

solutions in this industry, but

first opened its doors 40 years ago.

this is one of them.”

[08] DECEMBER 2021



BPGI appoint executive committee Business Products Group International (BPGI) has announced its executive committee for 2022 and 2023, as voted for by the board of managers, following a recent meeting. Aidan McDonough, Integra’s CEO, was unanimously reappointed as chairman together with Tim Beaumont, MD of Nemo, as treasurer. Andrea Ghidini, MD of Office Distribution Spa, joins the board as

Konftel calls for change following COP26

vice-chairman. The executive committee has played a key role in developing the BPGI to ensure its continued success as a robust and evolving organisation. Despite the unprecedented challenges the industry has faced over the

Konftel has urged the wider communications industry to follow its lead and take

last two years, BPGI members continue to

the greener route to success – after enabling customers to ‘conference with a

work together to support and enhance the

clear climate conscience.’

independent dealer channel.

Following the COP26 UN climate change conference in Glasgow, Konftel

“I am delighted to have been elected

has issued a rallying call having become the first manufacturer of its kind to

chairman for another term and look forward

achieve climate neutral certification. In an era of agile working, with huge

to working with our CEO, Barrie Hayes,

demand for conferencing and collaboration hardware, protecting the planet is

and the team,” Aidan commented. “The

just as important as connecting the world, according to CMO Stefan Eriksson.

crisis brought on by COVID has really

“We were the first in the collaboration devices sector to earn official climate

demonstrated the value of working as a

neutral certification – which has been successfully extended for the second year

collective - not just on the purchasing front

in a row,” he said.

to give members a competitive advantage,

“For us, it’s not enough to simply provide innovative technology,

but also to be able to share trends and

equipment and support which helps people communicate more effectively

information, or to discuss critical issues

without having to travel; we also have to pay attention to our own carbon

affecting our businesses.

footprint in a way which encourages others to do the same. “The basic benefits of conferencing have always had a positive

“BPGI has some exciting growth plans and I look forward to working with my

environmental impact and the technology we produce works in harmony with

colleagues over the next two years to see

our climate neutral philosophy. More video meetings means fewer car and rail

these come to fruition.”

journeys, fewer flights, less-full offices, reduced gas and electricity consumption. The two strategies operate together.” Climate Neutral Certified status means all greenhouse gas emissions have

Andrea added: “I’m very happy to be part of the executive board of BPGI. I feel a sense of responsibility for those members that, in

been offset across all aspects of the business, from manufacturing and product

voting for me, have put their trust in me. I truly

packaging to transportation. Konftel continues to cut impact at source too.

hope I’ll be able to play my part and make a

Investment in worldwide carbon credits are, in turn, used to support

difference in assisting Aidan and Tim to focus

controlled and certified projects across the world, such as forest conservation in

on the right issues and face the new challenge

Cambodia, clean electricity in Indonesia, landfill gas in the USA and also clean

of years to come.”

cook stoves in Mali. DECEMBER 2021 [09]



Four wise men Four experienced industry heads gave their perspectives on the current state of the office supplies sector, and its future, at the recent Dealer Support Live event


he concluding session at Dealer Support

– supply chain, cost of goods, cost of operations, all those

Live featured four well-known and

macroeconomic factors…

experienced names in the office supplies

“It would be easy to be downbeat about all this but, if you

sector; Steve Howorth, group CEO, EVO

look at the past 18 months, I am amazed by all the stories of

Group, Mark Wilkinson, vice president of

what dealers have done. They have pivoted, done different

ACCO, Steve Bilton, managing director of FusionPlus Data

things, changed, built things they have never built before,

and Martin Shaw, managing director of D3 Office Group. They

operated in different places.

gave their opinions on some of the biggest issues affecting the sector.

“So, as much as it is a perfect storm of negativity there is also huge opportunity. When I look at the power of what

Questions were posed by industry veteran Steve Harrop

we have in terms of how we approach the market as a

who opened the session by asking how cost increases,

community - we have immense power as disrupters in terms

shortages of materials, and wage inflation were affecting

of the dynamics, the local touch, the potential for change, the

day-to-day operations. Steve Howorth said that the industry

scale and mass support we have when needed. There will be

must be realistic and pragmatic about it. “There is no hiding

opportunities but, unfortunately, it is bloody hard work to find

away from it,” he said. “There are many different challenges

those opportunities and you have to be on the front foot…

[10] DECEMBER 2021



TIME MANAGEMENT The conversation then moved on to what issues dealers

Price inflation isn’t going away, and you can’t stick your head in the sand

should be focusing on, and Martin emphasised the importance of time management. “I discussed it with our team and said we need to get into a zone where we are doing things that are important but not urgent because, if we don’t, they get into the category of being important and urgent and it becomes frantic. You can’t operate easily in that zone for

but there is good business there to be done.” Mark drew attention to issues relating to price. “Price inflation isn’t going away, and you can’t stick your head in the

long,” he says. “We have probably all been in that zone for the past 18 months, but we now need to take a step back and have this time management discussion.”

sand, you have to pass these prices on. Our cost of goods has

Martin added that looking at ways to improve time

gone up dramatically; this is going to be a problem for a lot of

management, possibly through reviewing systems and

vendors and distributors that will translate into price rises for

processes, which can stop things going into the urgent zone,

dealers and end users. You have to price your products to get

can really improve how the business works.

you through this period and accept that this is the reality. It’s difficult, and uncomfortable, but that’s what you have to do.” With difficult times potentially ahead, dealers need to do

Steve Howorth agreed, saying dealers should make time to work out, and understand, what problems they are solving for customers. “In the past 18 months we have learnt that

everything they can to maximise their sales potential, and this

products are broadly irrelevant; it’s all about the value you

includes using all the tools and services available to them –

are adding to the customer,” he says. “If we can understand

which many don’t do, according to Steve Bilton. “Wholesalers

that better, then we have a chance of focusing on doing more

and dealer groups have awesome programs, and software

of that to help our businesses into the future - that goes for

houses have unbelievable functionality,” he said. “One of the

manufacturers as much as wholesalers and service providers.”

actions I would do as a dealer is to pick up the ‘phone and speak to your wholesalers, dealer groups and software houses


and find out what they have got that you are not using now.

The next question concerned hybrid working. While Mark

You might surprise yourself and find something in there that

noted that it presents opportunities for dealers – selling

will help you sell a different range of products, or make your

products for home workers and those in the office – Steve

whole operation more efficient.

Howorth questioned the term itself.

“I don’t think you guys realise how advanced and well-

“I am a huge fan of flexible working; I do not believe

organised this supply chain is. You have it handed on a plate

in hybrid working,” he said. “It is a nonsense to prescribe

compared to other industries we work with, particularly in the

to people when they can or can’t be in the office, or to

States. You have industry-specific software, data providers,

have policies that apply only to a small number of mid-

dedicated wholesalers and dealer groups all coming up with

managers, or clerical workers, and don’t apply to the bulk of

fabulous services.”

the workforce. We need to wake up as an industry and stop DECEMBER 2021 [11]



priority now and D3 is keeping a record of what the company is doing to reduce its environmental impact. “There’s a

Products are broadly irrelevant; it’s all about the value you are adding to the customer

programme through Office Friendly – I’m sure there are others out there – that is superb at taking you through a process. At the end it’s not about getting a badge but about taking the actions that you can then tell your customers to explain what you’ve been doing,” he said. Steve Howorth felt strongly about this. “It is directly and indirectly affecting people’s buying decisions day-by-day. We

talking about it.

are seeing it is becoming a bigger part of decisions people

“Flexible working is brilliant. Give people the scope to

make - either specifically, or as one of those expected factors

work where they want to, to be the most productive they

that has to be there and be correct. Post-COP26 there are

can be on any given day. It doesn’t need new legislation; it is

going to be some significant government commitments that

already in place – people can ask for flexible working.

will be followed up; there will be legislation. Whether we like

“Allow people to be productive, to get on the front foot and have respect for all those people who, throughout the pandemic, had no choice but to go into work – those

it or not, it’s here to stay, and we won’t be able to get away with greenwashing. “A lot of what we already do around consolidating supply,

minimum wage warehouse workers and drivers. I can’t look in

delivery, single sourcing, a slick de-duplicated supply chain

the mirror every day, think of them and work from home three

is great, but we have never packaged it in a way that tells the

days a week. We are back on the road and in the office, but

story strongly, and we can definitely do a better job of that

we respect people’s wishes to work flexibly.”

both individually and as an industry.” Mark added that the industry needs to take the


opportunity to sell products that are genuinely recyclable and

Sustainability is also coming to the fore again for dealers, and

have recycled content in them. “There is more that can be

this was the next issue addressed. Martin admitted that, over

done, of course, but there are a lot of products out there - we

the past 18 months, it hasn’t been a priority for many dealers,

need to do a better job of making them available to the end

who have been focused mostly on survival. However, it’s a

user so that salespeople can go out and sell them.”

[12] DECEMBER 2021

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A man of principle TOBY ROBINS has been extoling the virtues of environmentally sustainable office supplies for 30 years. He has some strong advice for dealers on the need to push the agenda for the sake of the planet – and their bottom line


ing Crosby’s standard White Christmas will, no doubt, be on

However, there have been warnings about climate

heavy rotation in retailers across

change for more than 30 years, and exhortations to use

the nation currently, but it has only

more sustainable products for just as long. In the office

happened on four occasions in the

supplies sector, Toby Robins was one of the first to do

past 50 years in the UK, according to the Met Office. With the effects of climate change, it is likely that white Christmases will be even more infrequent in the future,

[16] DECEMBER 2021

so dreaming of them is all we will be doing.

so when he set up Greenworld Supplies in July 1989. “It was down to a personal belief that something was happening to the environment,” he says. “Things



are changing; we should recognise this and do something about it. The more we learn about it, the more we realise we do have to do something about it. That was where the incentive first came from. I was ahead of the game on that one but, even now, the conviction remains and is becoming increasingly shared.”

A lot of environmental initiatives have always made commercial sense anyway

While Toby left Greenworld some years ago, he is still involved in sustainability issues as a consultant at environmental and sustainability consultancy

decision-making process; if you have the same product,

Green Element, and as a director of the British

at the same price, with the same level of service but strip

Association for Sustainable Sport. He also maintains a

out the environmental impact, is there any reason you

keen interest in the office supplies sector.

wouldn’t buy from me? So if they come back and say they aren’t bothered about the environment, you still have the


same product with an improved level of service – it didn’t

The principles of selling sustainable products haven’t really

stop me selling on other grounds but it put environment

changed in those 30 years. “When I started up people

on the agenda for people, which was great.”

were buying from me because of the environmental credentials; we had shared values,” he says. “These


weren’t people buying on price, so it didn’t matter if a rival

Today sustainability and environmental issues are

supplier came back with a better price offer.

an increasing priority for many customers and, while

“You have to sell with sincerity and integrity because you are selling to someone’s values. If you demonstrate that you don’t share those values – that

pushing an environmental agenda has a philosophy behind it, it also makes commercial sense. “My margin as a dealer was very strong throughout

you are just nodding in that direction for commercial

the time I had the company as it wasn’t price I was

gain - then it destroys your credibility and, not

selling on,” Toby says.

surprisingly, you don’t keep that customer. I’m not

“A lot of environmental initiatives have always

saying it is a religion, but I am saying it is about

made commercial sense anyway – route optimisation

purpose-driven, value-based, sales.”

and things like that. I was running alternatively fuelled

However, he concedes that, back then,

vehicles in London even before the congestion charge

environmental friendliness could be a difficult sell

but, when that kicked in, it saved me £2,000 per year per

to customers. “That was why I had to have sincerity,

vehicle. It makes sense to consolidate your customers’

integrity and passion,” he says. “But it didn’t mean I

deliveries and increase the average order value. There

couldn’t sell to anyone else. My operating costs were

is a lot of stuff that makes environmental sense but has

very low; I was selling into a local community and those

been done with cost in mind.”

people who didn’t come on board because of the

It can mean a change in sales approach though,

green credentials at the time sure as hell had them

Toby says. “When selling, I would go in and try to

repeated and repeated to them until the education

reduce the amount that my customers were buying. I

had got through.

would go in and say, ‘I am not interested in haggling

“Sustainability made it into a fourth criterion in the

over the price of a lever-arch file; I don’t want to sell DECEMBER 2021 [17]



you one for £2.50. I want to sell you one for £10 because then I know it will be of a quality that means it can be re-used and all you will need is a new spine label.’” This would save the customer money in not having to make repeat purchases, but also make Toby money in terms of margin. “It is a very different approach.” Another key point for Toby in enabling businesses to successfully sell sustainable products is to position themselves as partner to customers. “It doesn’t matter how many competitors come knocking on your door - if that is the basis of your relationship, they aren’t going anywhere. You might have reduced their overall spend, but you have lifetime value far greater than it ever would be if your sales focus was price-based.” In building these relationships, dealers can present to a customer’s green teams. “They tend to be drawn

Things are changing; we should recognise this and do something about it

from every department in a company; having a champion in every department makes it very difficult for the procurement guys to say ‘I am changing supplier’. “Working with the client to have multiple contacts makes it a very sticky account.” Toby advises dealers to be aware now of how environmental issues are becoming more of a priority – and that it is only going to move up the corporate agenda in the years to come. “Dealers need to be competitive within that marketplace. There are opportunities out there as demand grows; the further behind you are on this, the less competitive you will become so it’s time to move on.”

[18] DECEMBER 2021

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W H AT ’ S N E W F O R 2 0 2 2

New horizons – expectations for Dealer groups are anticipating another year of challenges for the office supplies sector - but say that there are still plenty of opportunities for dealers to be successful


he office supplies sector has had

description sits firmly, and for the foreseeable future,

to deal with many challenges over

only with the dealer.

the past couple of years – from the

“They will continue to source products from

pandemic to supply chain issues

multiple suppliers, and often competitors, in order to

caused by the Ever Given container

provide what their customers require. Maintaining and

ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal – but businesses have

cultivating multiple wholesale and vendor relationships,

shown the resilience to, in the main, continue to trade.

and marketing effectively multiple product and service

However, it looks like another turbulent year is in store, according to Graeme Hargreaves, group head

offers, will continue to remain critical.” Graeme recalls the free-of-charge wholesale CDC/

of merchandising at Nemo Office Club. “Realistically,

RDC model of distribution. “In a way, it was ahead of its

I think we can expect more of the same; disruption,

time if you look at what Amazon is doing with its large

fluctuating working patterns and uncertainty,” he says.

sheds around the country.

“I don’t expect the world to be in balance until the end

“For our sector, that model shifted to a single shed

of 2022 at the earliest. For dealers, who are well placed

placed centrally, and what is now chargeable fulfilment

to thrive in such times, this means remaining agile down

directly to the end user and via the dealer. What this

the supply chain and upwards to their customers.

forced the agile and adaptable dealer to do is to shop

“For supply, the need to shop around will remain

around - and they are getting used to it, which is not a

paramount. We are a long way - if we ever get there

bad thing in uncertain times. My belief is that we will

again - from a dealer being able to rely on a single

end up more with a series of specialist suppliers, akin

source of supply for the business consumables that they

to the old RDC model, but they will be ‘geographical’

now themselves offer. In this respect the ‘single source’

by product category rather than necessarily by location,

[20] DECEMBER 2021

W H AT ’ S N E W F O R 2 0 2 2



You are never going to know unless you ask the question

In terms of trends in sales Alex says that, according to dealers, their growth is currently coming from anything other than traditional office products. “Whether that’s promotional gifts, furniture, workwear, hygiene, IT - you name it, and they are doing it,” he says. “Sustainability will also be very much be back

equally alongside several broad range providers. “There are multiple examples; a catering supplier, a janitorial supplier, an educational supplier, a grounds maintenance supplier, a toner and ink supplier, and so

at the forefront in 2022, particularly after COP26, and hybrid working habits are beginning to harden-in now and become a permanent way of life.” Integra Business Solutions’ CEO, Aidan

on. The successful ‘broad range’ wholesalers will be

McDonough, agrees that hybrid working will be a

those that invest in, and embrace, a number of these

key trend in 2022 and beyond. “The opportunities for

product categories thereby commercially encouraging

dealers will be to provide a flexible service catering

spend to themselves and away from these now

to the needs of remote workers and offices alike,” he

establishing alternatives.”

says. “Technology, hygiene and, specifically, sanitising solutions will also continue to be in demand.


“As the education sector stabilises, surplus budgets

Meanwhile Alex Dunn, managing director of Superstat

have seen members picking up additional business,

Ltd, reckons the biggest business challenges for 2022

including capital expenditure, and we will continue to

are likely to be ongoing supply chain issues and constant

provide dedicated catalogues, direct mail and seasonal

price increases. “The best response to this is to be

campaigns to maximise the opportunities.

proactive in our communication with customers,” he says. “No-one likes delivering bad news but the quicker we raise it, and look at alternative solutions where possible, the more customers appreciate our efforts. “Supply chain problems and volatile pricing are

General office supplies will continue to decline, so finding new opportunities will be critical. “We would encourage members to monitor their key performance indicators more regularly and have a short-term action plan. Set time aside, however, to think

worldwide problems, and this is set to continue into

‘outside the box’ to create additional revenue streams

2022, so now is a good time to be actively prospecting .

and opportunities – get the team together to throw

We are currently training dealer salespeople on how to

everything in the pot.”

get on the front foot and get prospecting. “Another problem might be recruiting and retaining


good people in a job market that favours the employee.

Aidan adds that Integra are seeing increasing numbers

Businesses can look at how we can make ourselves

of members putting the focus back on stocking and

attractive to work for. It doesn’t have to be pool tables

that 48-hour delivery will be the norm, going forward.

and latte machines - being flexible, inclusive and creative

Steve Carter, managing director of Advantia

with working hours where possible can cost nothing, but

Business Solutions, agrees that next-day deliveries

make life a whole lot easier for people.”

could decline as dealer groups look to save money DECEMBER 2021 [21]


W H AT ’ S N E W F O R 2 0 2 2

on fuel and reduce their carbon footprints. “I have asked dealers, ‘Do you believe your customers still need a next-day delivery?’ Some dealers say ‘Yes’ and if you ask why, they say ‘Because if we don’t offer next-day delivery, someone up the road who sells the same products will.’ I reply, ‘Have you asked your customers that?’ If you have a customer order with 10 lines on it, and

General office supplies will continue to decline, so finding new opportunities will be critical

nine lines come from your stock, or your wholesaler’s, and another line will come in a day later, to my mind

who are working in the office, at home, or flexibly in

you are better off holding onto it, making sure the

both locations. Dealers need to find out how that

customer is aware, and I am convinced the customer

person wants to receive their supplies that they

will usually say ‘Bring it all together in two days’ time’.

need; will they be sent to the office or their home, for

“It isn’t just about the products; it’s about the

example? Build your offering around that. “You are never going to know unless you ask the

service as well.”

question. We ask dealers to do that and then come COMMUNICATION IS PARAMOUNT Steve adds that communication with customers is paramount if dealers are to provide the most effective service. “We have to find out what customers’ plans are,

back and tell us and we will gear things around that. “It isn’t all doom and gloom. People may not come back to the workplace but, if they are working from home, they are going to need things at home and the

such as if they are bringing all their staff back into the

employer is still responsible for their furniture etc so

office or allowing them to work flexibly.”

go and find out what they are doing and build things

This is important is it will impact on how dealers deliver to customers. “We have to cater for employees

[22] DECEMBER 2021

around that accordingly. “There are still opportunities out there.”




Broad spectrum approach Spectrum has recently rebranded to reflect how the business has changed. The company is now focusing on an ambitious plan to grow the business organically and by acquisition

hat’s in a name? In

Copiers in 1983, reflecting its focus on

mean something different. “IT, to me, now

business, it is crucial.

selling photocopiers. In 1999 the company

is your physical IT infrastructure – servers,

Rob Cavill, managing

had its first rebrand, to IT@Spectrum. “At

laptops, monitors, hardware, the firewalls

director of Spectrum,

the time, the business had moved away from

and all the things that happen on a network

knows this only too

just selling photocopiers and started doing

– which is not what Spectrum does and

well, which is why he and his fellow directors

more around information and document

never has been. Also, the ‘@’ symbol has

decided to rebrand the company recently.

management,” Rob explains. “The ‘@’

now become commonplace.”


Spectrum has been a well-known name in the office printer market for many years. The company started life as Spectrum

[24] DECEMBER 2021

symbol was relatively new, and techy and cool at the time.” However, more recently, IT has come to

With this in mind, the decision was taken to rebrand, and Spectrum was chosen as it is the one word that has remained



in the name of the company since it was formed. “We also wanted to future-proof the name to avoid this situation again. If we called ourselves something like ‘Spectrum Document Management’, for example, there is a risk that, 15 years from now, whatever phrase we chose would be equally redundant,” explains Rob.

That’s where our many years of experience as experts in automation comes into its own

“So, we decided to simplify things, and reflect the fact that – excusing the pun –

marketing and from their sales teams when

the spectrum of what we do has grown. It

they discuss the scope of Spectrum’s offering.

repositions us as not just a copier dealer but

This is partly because the digital side of the

as the experts in automation who can assist

business is growing quickly; Rob is confident

with digital transformation and deal with

that this will continue for the foreseeable

anything to do with paper, information and

future as more companies understand the

data in the workplace.”

benefits of digitising their businesses and automating processes.


Demand for Spectrum’s digitisation

With the rebrand has come a change in

services have surged since the pandemic,

logo – although some might not notice

Rob adds, as businesses have needed to work

at first. “There is a familiarity to our new

remotely, access information wherever they

logo, compared to our old one, and that is a

are, and become more efficient. “This has

thought-out approach,” says Rob. “We

meant digitising the way they do things.”

didn’t want to lose the recognition and

Rob emphasises that Spectrum don’t just

goodwill that the IT@Spectrum brand had

go into a business and digitise their current

built up, so we literally ditched the IT@.

processes. “The first part in any solution is

People see IT@ has now gone - that triggers

consultancy. We review the way a business

a conversation as to why, giving us the

does things currently and then advise, and

opportunity to explain the wider capabilities

improve their processes, and then digitise

of our business.”

them. Consultancy is a huge part of it as that’s where our many years of experience as


experts in automation comes into its own.

With the new branding comes a new

We don’t just sell a software; we sell an

marketing push. Rob wants both sides of

end-to-end consultancy solution that

the business – print and digital – to have

we then embed and support to give the

equal billing on its website, through their

customer added peace of mind.” DECEMBER 2021 [25]



Print will bounce back in terms of volumes

invoice, extract the information, put

people migrate back to the office.” To this

it through a workflow, and it can then

end, Spectrum has recruited several local

appear on someone’s ‘phone for approval.

young people and put them through the

This automation speeds up the entire

company’s training programme, Spectrum

process, meaning the business can redeploy

Campus. “We are investing in youth to grow

the personnel who were doing these

our own sales professionals,” says Rob.

mundane tasks and get them onto more Digitisation can significantly improve

value-added work.”

efficiency. For example, in businesses

Organic growth is only one part of Spectrum’s ambitious plan to double its £10 million turnover in the next three years. Rob

in sectors such as construction - where


is also looking to acquire businesses, to add

thousands of invoices need to be processed

As COVID has sped up the digitalisation

to the two purchased in the past three years.

- this was, historically, a labour-intensive

process among many businesses, Spectrum

“There are three to four businesses we are

process, involving the manual processing of

has invested in its team. “While most

talking to that are the right fit geographically,

those invoices, matching them to purchase

businesses have been scaling back, and doing

as well as in what they sell and their

orders and getting them signed off by

what they can to protect the business, we

expertise. We are looking at print and

management. The invoice would then be

have taken a front-foot approach, recruiting

digital acquisitions – it could be a software

put into the filing system and onto the

a head of digital solutions - and another six

developer or vendor or a start-up - there are

bank for payment.

people into that team - which gears us up for

all manner of opportunities we

growth,” says Rob.

are looking at.

“There is a huge amount of work in this,” says Rob. “We digitise all this through

The digital side of Spectrum is thriving,

“We are taking a proactive approach in

scanning and data capture. Our systems

and the print side is still growing too. “Print

contacting businesses that we think will be a

and software can read what is on an

will bounce back in terms of volumes as

good fit into the spectrum of what we do.”

[26] DECEMBER 2021

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As dealers look towards 2022, many will be looking to refresh their product lines and categories to provide customers with the best range of products possible. What will be the big trends in 2022, and how can dealers ensure they capitalise?

2022 or



fter two turbulent

Often home workers have limited space

years, office supplies

and need to create an office on a minimal

dealers will be looking

footprint. “Workers now need clever

of good office design - this is even

forward to a year

solutions that optimise the available space

more important in a small working

with – hopefully – a

while also creating and efficient and pleasant

environment. Human-centric lighting is

lot less disruption. They will also be looking

working environment,” says Claire Negri,

often preferred, especially if workers are

to maximise sales by following the latest

trade marketing executive at Durable (UK).

not leaving their homes for a long periods


trends among customers and buying the newest products.

“Portable and multifunctional equipment and storage solutions can help

Of course, some key trends in 2022 will

a living environment. “Light is also an essential element

of time during the day.” Flexible solutions are also needed for

with this,” she says. “Tools like tablet holders,

hybrid workers, Claire points out. “A media

be similar to those seen in 2021, such as

and drawer boxes to keep documents

trolley for video conferences, Zooming and

hybrid working and working from home.

organised as well as blending in perfectly to

presentations facilitates the digital presence

[28] DECEMBER 2021


is all about.”

Workers now need clever solutions that optimise the available space

Richard adds that shelving units and


“As people return to the office, reviewing and installing health and safety

lockers – in a range of colours – have been

signage will become important whether

big sellers in 2021, with shelving units

for offices, access areas such as car parks,

often used to divide and zone the working

security, washroom, canteens, first aid

environment, as well as being a design

rooms etc, or for operational areas like

choice for the home.

warehouses, manufacturing sites, waste

Demand for lockers has also increased as staff return to the workplace

management areas, transportation yards etc,” he says. Custom-designed signage could

of colleagues wherever they are.

with a desire for personal space and for

Video and audio conferencing is now a

locks that can be opened using apps via the

also be a growth area, he says. “Here the

proven alternative to face-to-face meetings,

‘phone, says Richard.

possibilities are endless for the dealer to sell

ensuring a more productive and professional meeting experience.” Richard Costin, CEO of Bisley, agrees that how space is used will be a key consideration in 2022. “We predict that

Leon Haigh, UK sales manager at

new ideas to their customer bases, from site

Phoenix Office, believes that demand for

safety notice boards with logos and unique,

lockers will continue to grow, especially with

designed, shadowboards, to office interior

the increasing use of hot desking.

wall vinyls and bespoke signs. As businesses

He adds that security products will

look to refresh their branding around

zoning of space will be a key principle of

also be in demand to help managers and

their business, we are seeing companies

space planning and design,” he says. “In

employees maintain GDPR compliance.

looking at cost-effective ways to brighten up

an office, workspace or even a residential

With more hybrid working and working

workspaces, put new commercial signage in

project, it essentially refers to the process of

from home, it needs to be ensured that

place and freshen up existing signage.”

dividing space up, looking at it in terms of

sensitive company data, print outs, company

purpose, and then designing it accordingly.

laptops, ‘phones etc can be stored safely


when not in use, and there are a range of

Another growth sector for office supplies

products available to do that.

dealers is warehousing, transport and

“By designing specific, bespoke, fit-forpurpose spaces and environments – like collaboration hubs, creative work shopping

“Office products dealers will need to be

logistics, according to Jim Roberts, head of

spaces and productivity zones – we have a

aware of this, and of the right products to

new product development at Beaverswood.

chance to make sure we’re set up to achieve

promote,” he says.

Again, space is a key consideration, especially storage facilities. For instance,

the task we’re trying to complete before it even starts. From welcome spaces to focus


aisle racking boards can enable warehouses

areas, or collaboration hubs to private

Safety in the office will also be a priority

and storage facilities to make better use of

meeting booths, making sure that space

in 2022, says Steve Plaistowe, Business

their space - often the end of racking is an

and colour is designed with the activity

Development Manager (OP Channel)

unused area, Jim says. Likewise, ‘stations’

that’ll take place in it in mind is what zoning

at Spectrum Industrial.

for cleaning, health and safety and other DECEMBER 2021 [29]



important hygiene or safety equipment for

seeing products appearing on the market

the facility, which simply hook onto the

that are increasing their recycled content.

rack ends, will also be important.

Some products have simpler and more

“As companies run out of space they

effective recycling options, whether it be

need to find ways to work smarter and create

plastic packaging with a higher percentage of

more space, while keeping their workers,

recycled content, bubble lined mailers with a

vehicles and property safe,” says Jim.

partially recycled liner or a myriad of other, more environmentally conscious, packaging

Zoning of space will be a key principle of space planning and design

products are also now available.

SUSTAINABILITY Another key trend in 2022 will be a focus

“Within office papers, aside from the

on sustainability and product origin, says

opportunity to recycle the product document

products to excite end-users - especially

Gemma Bassett of Sinclairs Products.

after use, manufacturers are looking at how

in the arts and crafts sector. We have

“Consumer buying trends will, no doubt,

they can improve the recyclability of the

also launched our range of plastic-

reflect this too,” she says. “However, we see

product and its packaging. Surface treatments

free packaging to replace most of our

that products that are able to state ‘British

aimed at improving the visual appearance of

conventional blister cards.”

made’, ‘100% recycled’, ‘carbon zero’ - and

the completed document contribute to easier

other environmental certifications such as

de-inking during the recycling process; not

will continue to be in demand. While the

FSC - should be of particular importance to

an obvious benefit at first glance, but still

standard pack size for pens used in the

dealers and customers alike.”

a significant step forward in reducing the

office tends to be 12 or 10, for an individual

product’s overall environmental impact. This,

working at home this is simply too many

digital papers at Antalis, agrees, adding that

coupled with developments in

to buy. Pentel has developed a range of

there are some great innovations and small

easier to recycle ream wrappers, are

cardboard wallets containing two, three or

actions that can make a big difference.

important improvements.”

four products, which is a far more realistic

Paul Savill, product manager, office and

“Looking at what we use, and how we

Wendy Vickery, marketing manager

“We’ve been working hard on new

Wendy believes that smaller pack sizes

quantity for most home working end-users.

use it, is key; discerning buyers/consumers

of Pentel, adds that there is also growing

Customers are also telling Pentel

will be asking suppliers to be supportive,

demand for refillable products. “Whether

that their appetite for innovation has not

knowledgeable and, above all, responsive

purchasing for the office, or for individual

diminished. “Since the reopening of non-

in finding more environmentally sound

use at home, environmental considerations

essential retail stores our customers are as

solutions,” he says.

will play an increasingly important role in

keen as ever to discover what’s new and how

informing the decision-making process in

we can help generate end-user demand for

2022,” she says.

our products,” says Wendy.

“With the imminent arrival of the plastics tax in April 2022, we are already

[30] DECEMBER 2021

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[32] DECEMBER 2021

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4. In which country did eggnog originate?

“happy to adopt the title” as early

5. How many gifts were given in total in The Twelve Days of Christmas song?

for 13 years. Chloe said decorating her home early allowed her to

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decorations had been a tradition

enjoy the winter festivities for “as long as I can”, adding that her partner had to accept it. “I’ve

Knock me down with a feather

always loved Christmas ever

Banished Bountys

since I was a small child,” she

As reported by the Evening Standard, new

said. “People call me the crazy

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Christmas lady - that’s the title I’ve now adopted happily.” She said

Bounty last in the Celebrations box. The poll, commissioned by Celebrations, also revealed that a depressing 32% of us would rather throw away unwanted chocolate than eat it. However, this Christmas the

friends and family “accept it for

Bounty-phobics of Britain can finally sleep peacefully knowing they have a

who I am”, adding she has never

Plan B - one that doesn’t involve unnecessary food waste or unloved Bounty

met anyone “on my level”. “I think I take it a bit too far. I can’t help

bars. Mars Wrigley have launched The Bounty Return Scheme - a new initiative that will see Brits able to return unwanted Bounty Celebrations and swap them for Maltesers Teasers this January.

myself,” she said. DECEMBER 2021 [33]



Bringing hope, peace and unity to the good brethren of business supplies The good Father reflects on a difficult year, gets in the Christmas spirit, and looks forward to a (hopefully) less challenging 2022


ell, it’s hard to believe it’s that time of year

the more money they make. I don’t want to exaggerate, but our

however, so we must be merry! Think of all the nice things the office supplies

again. We’re now

backorder list stretches halfway down the

industry can still offer us, like the annual

coming up to the

main street as Mrs O’ Reilly - who looks

Christmas party - where there is always

end of a year in

after our HR, EORI, recruitment, order

a fight - and the annual Christmas

office products which has been like no

fulfilment and warehousing - still insists on

visits to our top customers with tins of

other; full of COVID issues, Brexit issues,

printing it all out. Helping the environment

sweets and bottles of wine which will,

stock issues and eating too many biscuits

means nothing to her even though it’s

ultimately, cost more than the profit

whilst working from home issues. I would

very much at the forefront of how we do

we’ve made from this year as there hasn’t

be glad it’s coming to an end if it wasn’t

business. We preach to the customers

been anyone in their offices.

for the fact that it apparently isn’t - the

about green products, and try to act as an

forecast for next year doesn’t seem to draw

example to them, but one of them tripped

always a tricky thing to get right; some

a pretty picture. Most of our industry

over the back-order report last week on the

companies won’t accept bottles of wine

gurus are predicting more of the same

way to get their lunch and is threatening

because it’s seen as a bribe, so we just put

problems we’ve had this year, although I

to sue us. Mrs O’ Reilly thinks that climate

it in an empty toner box - which is fine

think that’s how they make their living;

change has been made up by hipsters in the

unless they then put it in their printer.

if everything was good in our world we

office supplies trade so that they can sell

wouldn’t call on them to make us more

more of their green products.

miserable - and the more miserable we are

[34] DECEMBER 2021

The festive season is almost upon us,

Christmas gifts to customers are

It’s been a difficult time for most, but I hope that it improves soon, and I hope you all have a very merry Christmas.



Managing supply chain issues ALEX DUNN, managing director of Superstat, discusses how you can keep your customers satisfied despite supply chain issues


ur whole supply

communication. When dates and

chain is currently

prices move, the sooner you can

experiencing severe

discuss it with your customer, the

delays and cost

more likely you are to find a solution

increases. From the

that meets their expectations.

Alex Dunn,

managing director of Superstat taking the trouble to understand

global container crisis, to a shortage of lorry drivers in the UK, dealers are having


how bad that problem is can help

a hard time getting hold of product, and

Most businesses have experienced

to ease the pain and maintain the

then getting that product to customers

supply problems recently, and

relationship. You might find out

on time and on budget. Meanwhile, price

customers get upset sometimes -

something useful at the same time.

increases are coming through at such a

especially when they feel let down.

rate that it’s hard to keep up.

When it’s not your fault, and feelings are


running high, it’s easy to react. Try to

There isn’t a solution to every problem

to meet customer expectations, and

keep your cool and, if at all possible, try

but there might be if you talk about

businesses are seeing a negative impact

to preserve theirs at the same time!

it and, while it may sound obvious,

Everyone in the channel is struggling

it’s important to try to work with the

on their bottom lines. This makes the

customer to develop a solution together.

salesperson’s job a whole lot more difficult;


nobody likes delivering bad news to

We talk a lot about ‘selling like a doctor’.

customers - especially salespeople!

When a problem occurs, don’t jump


in with the solution straight away. It’s

With all the problems going on at the

disrupt business for months to come,

tempting to try to address the pain

moment there are potential customers

Superstat focused its November sales

immediately, but ask lots of questions

everywhere, many of whom are in a load

academy online training on selling despite

first, and give yourself every chance to

of pain right now. After months of relative

these issues. Here are six steps which

understand the full ramifications before

isolation people are more and more

will help you to proactively manage the

you start solving.

receptive to an authentic conversation so

So, with supply chain issues set to

now is a great time to prospect.

challenges with dependable solutions. LISTEN INTENTLY

For more information on the six


Even if it’s just showing some empathy,

steps, or if you would like to see the

Salespeople report that what customers

people really appreciate being listened

sales academy recording, please email

value most in these situations is prompt

to. You can’t solve every problem but DECEMBER 2021 [35]


Join us at DS LIVE THE industry event for all UK dealers

PUT THIS IN YOUR DIARY 20th October 2022 Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry