Ute Borgard and Kai-Uwe Heuer – NEW ENTRY 2023

    Ute Borgard and Kai-Uwe Heuer – NEW ENTRY 2023
    Managing Directors

    The board of German dealer group Büroring saw more upheaval at the beginning of the year following the departure of Axel Hennemann in Q4 2022.

    In January 2023, Ute Borgard took on Hennemann’s role, joining Kai-Uwe Heuer on the Büroring board on an interim basis. Heuer himself joined just under a year earlier, in February 2022.

    Despite the somewhat revolving leadership door, Büroring during its May 2023 annual forum said unity was restored at the group.

    To what extent its resellers are truly behind Büroring remains to be seen. Just 77 members were at the annual meeting out of a total of 500 dealers, 300 of which are shareholders. The group also hasn’t publicly shared the implication of its recent alliance with EK/servicegroup, which was announced in February.


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    Background information

    2022: The board of German dealer group Büroring saw some more changes over the past year following the 2021 departure of long-term joint Managing Director Jörg Schäfers who was in charge of the finance, IT and logistics functions of the business.

    Replacing Schäfers in February 2022 was Kai-Uwe Heuer, joining fellow Managing Director Axel Hennemann who himself is a fairly recent recruit and is responsible for the group’s sales and marketing function.

    Between them, both executives bring about 60 years of experience to their roles. Heuer specifically comes from the wholesale channel and combines his logistics knowledge with a solid educational and professional background in finance. He is also very familiar with the remit and work of German cooperatives from his wholesale days. This insight will be much needed at an ever-changing Büroring which has experienced multiple challenges over the past few years, both from a member as well as internal organisational perspective.

    The first half of 2022 comprised a number of high level board meetings where the core priorities of the group going forward were discussed. More information on these priorities and how they will be actioned will become evident at Büroring’s 46th AGM which will be held at the end of June.

    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 were negatively 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.