2018: Under the leadership of CEO Paul Yardley who, this October, approaches the end of his second year at the helm, 2018 has been marked by a number of partnerships for Australia’s GNS Wholesale Stationers, both with the country’s dealer group Office Choice.
Effective 1 July 2018, the first agreement relates to GNS-affiliated Officesmart dealers whereby these dealers will be able to access the full range of Office Choice membership packages, including marketing tool kits and business development tools, and a customised e-commerce web platform. This relates directly to Yardley’s previously stated strategic goal of boosting the company’s marketing and merchandising capabilities.
A few months later, in early October, GNS and Office Choice announced a joint event to take place next year – the Office Product Reseller Supplier Expo, to be held in Sydney in August 2019. The show will consist of a full supplier day for both newsagent and dealer group participants and will be held alongside the 2019 Office Choice Conference and Gala Awards.
Office Choice and GNS first collaborated over five years ago when Office Choice put into place a national preferred wholesaler programme.
2017: Paul Yardley joined GNS Wholesale Stationers as CEO in October of last year to head up a strengthened management team brought in following a tough 2016.
A Brit, Yardley’s background is originally in investment banking, but since relocating to Australia in 2009 he has focused on the turnaround and restructuring of consumer businesses in industries undergoing major change.
GNS began life almost 40 years ago as a buying cooperative for newsagents, but has since evolved to being the largest – and only national – wholesaler in the Australian marketplace.
It has been a busy 12 months after a very challenging 2016 where the business had to refinance and refocus on its core operations due to a prolonged period of poor execution.
Since joining, Yardley has been implementing a renewed strategy based around two big themes: delivering a lowest-cost operating model, and driving market consolidation. As he puts it, he wants GNS to be the “last man standing” in terms of profitability.
In the past year, the group also acquired two smaller regional office products wholesalers, Perth-based WA Stationery and V Wholesale in Sydney. In February, it was made the Australian distributor for Double A paper, significantly enlarging its customer base. It was also appointed to the Office Brands wholesaler panel earlier this year, adding to its preferred wholesaler status with the Office Choice and ASA dealer groups.
Yardley says that boosting the group’s marketing and merchandising capabilities is a critical part of delivering the commercial part of a wholesaling model. To this end, the group has recruited a well-known OP industry marketing manager, having head-hunted Office Brands’ General Manager of Merchandise and Marketing Margaret De Francesco.
The Australia and New Zealand office products market is in a period of significant flux right now, with several of the large operators undergoing consolidation and smaller independent dealers able to take advantage of this disruption.
The arrival of Amazon is also expected to bring new opportunities for GNS and the wider market, as it threatens traditional big-box retail.