Axel Hennemann/Jörg Schäfers

Axel Hennemann/Jörg Schäfers
Joint Managing Directors

2021: It’s been a tough year for Büroring and its leadership team with little to cheer about. The German dealer group, like everyone else, had to contend with pandemic-related challenges that have affected many of its small and medium-sized members badly. In terms of its geographic location in the country, Büroring was also at the heart of some of the horrendous floods in July which caused so much damage and cost many lives.

The group’s headquarters and central warehouse were unaffected, but deliveries in the area inevitably werenegatively impacted as a result of infrastructure issues.

Back in May, at its – again virtual – AGM, Büroring posted “satisfactory” results “under pandemic circumstances” for 2020. It referred to a 4.3% sales drop in its logistics operations to about €38 million ($44.6 million) and a 12.8% decline in its central billing business to €116 million. Q1 2021 results came in considerably below expectations, all in all not boding well for the full year given the ongoing challenges.

On a more positive note, in August, the group started its series of Büroring Academy online marketing webinars, all with the intention of helping its dealer members navigate the difficult current – and likely future – times. 

2020: The top team at German dealer group Büroring is looking a bit different again, after the departure first of Ingo Dewitz in 2018 and then of his interim replacement Thomas Grzanna in 2020. Grzanna, incidentally, runs one of the group’s dealer members and is also Project Manager of the Büroring Objekt Partner and Büroprint marketing groups.

Joining long-term Managing Director Jörg Schäfers – responsible for the finance, IT and logistics side of the business – is Axel Hennemann, now in charge of the group’s sales and marketing function.

Hennemann brings plenty of experience to the role, having worked in various sales and marketing positions in the office supplies sector for about 30 years, including 11 years at Landré (now Hamelin), nine years at Herma and most recently at label manufacturer Interket.

As for most, if not all, operators in our industry, flexibility has been key in a year dominated by the pandemic, ranging from Büroring’s own internal functionalities and operations to an increased focus on partnerships to secure products and services for its dealers.

2019: It’s been a year of internal reorganisation at German dealer group Büroring. Previous Managing Director Ingo Dewitz left in the summer of last year and Jörg Schaefers joined forces with interim Managing Director Thomas Grzanna to hold the fort and deal with the repercussions of Dewitz’ departure.

The group continues to look for a permanent successor for Dewitz, with both internal as well as external candidates in the picture. And it is now well positioned to come to a conclusion in its search, says fellow Managing Director Schaefers, following a thorough look at the whole business, its processes and priorities.

From an operational point of view, Büroring has been heavily impacted by the fallout from the demise of ADVEO Germany, a close former partner of the group. But while there have been some short-term bottlenecks in terms of stock availability and the servicing of dealers, long-term the group and its central warehouse operation will massively benefit from the situation.

2018: Most recently, it was a personnel issue that’s made the headlines at Büroring, when Ingo Dewitz left the German dealer group at the end of August. Dewitz joined Büroring in 2010 and had worked as Joint Managing Director with Jörg Schaefers – sharing the roles of sales and marketing (Dewitz) and finance, IT and logistics (Schaefers).

Schaefers, a long-standing Büroring executive who began working at the group in 1998 and became a member of the board in 2012, initially took over all responsibilities after Dewitz’s departure. He was joined by Thomas Grzanna, fellow board member and CEO of Büroring member Grzanna Büro Service, in mid-September on an interim basis until a permanent successor is found. Grzanna has taken on all of Dewitz’s previous tasks, but Schaefers will remain in a supervisory role for the time being.

All round, Büroring has had quite a bit on its plate, most notably with its €4 million ($4.7 million) logistics upgrade and the teething problems that this presented. With order values declining and packaging as well as freight costs increasing, 2017 was all round a challenging year – that was the gist of the group’s AGM in June. That said, total group sales of €212.4 million were up by 6.9% compared to the previous year, the “best sales figure of all time”, according to the management team.

During the meeting, the group emphasised the progress that’s been made in the areas of product expansion and e-commerce, both of which will continue to drive members’ revenues. It also elaborated on its focus on forging more and better partnerships where synergies can be realised and cost taken out. Its deal with fellow cooperative Egropa, which was voted on at the AGM, is just one example of such a partnership.

On a different note – and that must be hugely satisfying to Schaefers and his team – Büroring over the past two years or so has been able to bring on board Germany’s two biggest independent dealers. Kaut-Bullinger joined in mid-2016 amid plenty of controversy while Northern Germany’s Plate moved to the group at the beginning of this year. Both had been with Soennecken for many years.