2021: After about 45 years at the helm, Plate’s Managing Director Dieter Schmidt fully handed over the reins of one of Germany’s largest independent dealers to his son. Ingo Schmidt took the top job in January of this year, having worked in the Bremen, Northern Germany-based company for approximately 26 years.
In charge of about 120 staff and boasting revenues of €90 million ($106 million), it’s just as well Schmidt has experience in every aspect of the company’s operations – it’s certainly knowledge he has needed in the run-up to the handover and, quite possibly, will require even more so in the future.
Plate survived the height of the pandemic extremely well, an achievement that is due in no small part to being able to source – and sell, in vast quantities – much-needed pandemic-related products, including masks as well as, interestingly, COVID testing kits. These goods, says the dealer, could be procured directly from Asia as a result of Plate’s membership of the European Office Supplies Alliance (EOSA), thereby ensuring reasonable pricing as well as fewer availability difficulties.
The challenges, adds the dealer, are becoming very apparent in the second half of 2021, because COVID products are no longer in so much demand. But neither are traditional office products right now, a trend that is obviously vastly exacerbated by the still ongoing homeworking situation. For a B2B-only player like Plate with a considerable number of large accounts in urban areas, this is a particular headache, and one that is unlikely to go away.
Plate continues to see huge potential on the contract side and is investing accordingly. By the same token, it’s also trying to stem the flow of customers towards Amazon and is putting a massive focus on its online business, an increasingly large part of Plate’s operations now.