European Forum 2019

    OPI Events

    Event details

    • The Westin Grand Berlin
    • 05 Jun 19 - 07 Jun 19

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    European Forum 2019

    The Westin Grand Berlin

    05 Jun 19 - 07 Jun 19
    5 June 2019


    European Forum 2019

    The Westin Grand Berlin

    05 Jun 19 - 07 Jun 19
    5 June 2019


    We are delighted to announce that the eighth OPI European Forum will be held at the Westin Grand Berlin from Wednesday 5 – Friday 7 June 2019.

    OPI Forums

    As a senior executive in the business products industry the opportunities to meet with your industry peers – the people who understand the uniqueness of your sector and recognise the importance of working together as an industry – are very rare. To help in these challenging times, OPI hosts Forums in both Europe and the US for senior executives and leaders within the business products industry.

    OPI European Forum

    The European Forum focuses more directly on the uniqueness and the issues of the European market.

    This is not a large conference but a small forum exclusively for senior executives from the leading resellers, manufacturers and wholesalers of office products, and “non-traditional” retailers and vendors from the increasingly important FM and consumer electronics categories.


    We will provide an inspiring agenda featuring high quality keynotes, panel discussions and roundtable sessions to stimulate thought and debate. We understand that networking is important, so there is also plenty of informal time for more private discussions. To ensure this can be accomplished in an appropriate environment, the European Forum will be a private meeting operating under Chatham House rules.

    We are confident you will find the event a really valuable experience and a very good use of your time.

    If you are interesting in attending or would like to find out more please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    Steve Hilleard
    CEO, OPI


    European Forum 2019

    We are currently working on the programme and this page will be updated regularly.

    Outline Agenda

    Wednesday 5th June

    17.00     Registration

    18.30     Welcome Reception and BBQ – Sommergarten, First Floor

    21.30     Drinks in the bar

    Thursday 6th June

    08.00     Registration – First Floor

    08.30     Welcome – Salon Unter Den Linden/Friedrichstadt, First Floor
    Chris Exner, Chief Commercial Officer, OPI

    08.35    Opening remarks from the chair
    Robert Baldrey, independent industry expert

    08.40    State of the industry
    Robert Baldrey, independent industry expert

    09.10     Strategic transformation and execution
    Most executives claim that executing a strategy is one of their most difficult tasks. Similarly, studies have found that the main reason for strategic failures rests with the firm’s inability to execute the planned strategic intent. This talk will cover how to:

    • Gain an understanding of the critical nature of execution
    • Embrace a model to enact effective strategy execution
    • Understand how to build a performance culture
    • Gain insight into the crucial role of leadership for strategy execution

    Meanwhile, most company strategies are based on what has been done in the past, especially if it was successful. They go through long periods of relative continuity during which established strategy changes, but only incrementally. What companies find really difficult is to make radical changes or strategic transformations that change the existing business model:

    • Recognise when strategies need to be changed or transformed
    • Diagnose the organizational barriers to strategic change
    • Understand how the strategic planning process affects strategic thinking
    • Construct a framework for strategic transformation
      Prof George Yip, Professor of Marketing & Strategy, Imperial College Business School

    10.00     Profit from the core: A framework for growth in turbulent times
    Beyond the question of what to do about Amazon; resellers, wholesalers and manufacturers must all consider what to focus on beyond office products, and how they should actually go about it.  Kevin will outline a model by Bain & Company that helps businesses determine what adjacencies to their core are likely to be most successful.  The model has helped Warehouse Direct achieve sustainable growth over a consistent period of time which has been characterised by low or negative growth for most established players in the sector.
    Kevin Johnson, CEO, Warehouse Direct (formerly Bain & Co)

    Morning break for refreshments & networking

    11.15     Don’t fly solo: How brands and retailers need to reinvent their collaboration in the digital age   

    • China as the accelerator for ‘new retail’ 
    • Why does the current brand retail model need to be reinvented? 
    • Transforming your organization and partnerships for digital 
    • Key drivers for global success
      Marc Bürkle, CEO, Commerce Connector
      Marc started his career in the office supplies industry. These days he works with global brands including 3M, L’Oreal, Bosch and Beiersdorf to grow online and in-store sales in partnership with approved retailers. 

    12.15    B2B sales channel disruption: How to set up a healthy channel strategy (with focus on platforms like Amazon Business)

    • How do firms think about Office Products spend and how do current trends of digitalization and automation change the buying behavior of firms?
    • What are the current channels and how do we predict them to develop?
    • How to adjust channel strategy to align with expected developments
    • Deep dive on platforms – the likely the winning channel model in the next 10 years
      what are they? Which ones exist?
      what are strategic options for single firms and the OP industry in general?
      Wolfram Lipp, Project Manager, Operations Strategy, Roland Berger

    12.45 Networking Lunch – Sommergarten, First Floor. 

    13.45     Roundtable 1:
    Delegates can choose to attend one of the following roundtable discussions, limited to around 15 participants.

    1. Taking e-commerce to the next level
      In this session, we will discuss options and share experiences on how to reach the next level of e-commerce. What are the key success factors? Why must cooperation between brands and retailers be reinvented? How can brands differentiated on e-commerce platforms? Is direct sales an option for brands?
      Moderator: Marc Bürkle,
      CEO, Commerce Connector

    2. Attracting and retaining young and diverse talent into the industry
      In a business that is dominated by white, middle aged men, what can we do to boost diversity in our workforce, in terms of age, gender and ethnicity, and make it more representative of the customers who purchase our products and services? Gordon will host a structured and interactive session which will aim to draw out some practical ways in which we can all address the challenge of acquiring and retaining of new talent.   
      Moderator: Gordon Christiansen, COO, Highlands

    3. Trade tariffs: Anticipating the impact and how we can prepare
      Thomas will start will a short summary of the US international trade (im)balance in office products.  We will move into a discussion considering tariffs on imports from China, shifting market demand, the evolving role of power resellers (will the cost advantage continue?), how the independent channel should react and how trade tariffs might impact domestic manufacturing.
      Moderator: Thomas Schinkel, President, Thomas Schinkel & Associates

    4. Pricing models fit for the digital age
      Should our industry continue to maintain the core/non-core pricing models requested by procurement professionals in the face of real time pricing available from the likes of Amazon Business? How do we change the customer’s mindset? Is an industry initiative required?
      Moderator: Robert Baldrey, industry veteran and previously Managing Director, Staples Solutions UK & Ireland

    5. B2B sales channel disruption: Exploring the potential of a dedicated procurement platform
      Moderator: Wolfram Lipp, Project Manager, Operations Strategy, Roland Berger

    14.45     Afternoon break for refreshments & networking

    15.15     Roundtable 2
    Options as above

    16.15     Transition/comfort break

    16.20     PANEL:  The changing landscape of European wholesaling                Panellists: Steve Haworth, CEO, EVO Group
                    Richard Scharmann, CEO, PBS Holdings
                    Tim Holmes, Commercial Manager, Office Products, Exertis Supplies
                    Nicolas Potier, CEO, Bruneau
                    Arnold Theuws, CEO, Quantore

     17.00     Close of day one conference programme

     19.00     Drinks Reception & Group Dinner – Austernbank Restaurant

    Friday 7th June

    08.30     Registration

    09.00     Opening remarks from the chair

    09.15    Making digital transformation happen
    The next five years will decide which enterprises will be among the winners and losers of digital transformation. For many, this will mean needing to literally reinvent themselves, cast off cherished methods and business models, rethink their business processes and the way they deal with customers and employees. The effects will be felt in every single department of the company, from sales to procurement, marketing. Logistics, manufacturing and quality control, human resources and controlling. For Europe, the stakes are huge. In many parts of the Old World, managers and workers continue to cling to their old ways, while their counterparts in North America and Asia are moving ahead much faster. As an American who has lived and worked in Germany and Austria for almost five decades, Tim is concerned that European companies could fall behind and be overtaken by competitors in countries often wrongly considered immature and underdeveloped. This would be a fatal mistake, and the price will be punishing. Only farsighted entrepreneurs with the courage to embrace new ideas and set new rules can help to avoid this fate. And time is running out…
    Tim Cole, Journalist & Author, The Futures Agency

     10.15   Customer 4.0: Are you ready for the modern consumer?

    • Defining is Customer 4.0?
    • The journey to modern commerce
    • Four questions to prepare your business
    • Barriers to change
    • Envisioning customer 5.0
      Gordon Christiansen, COO, Highlands

    10.45     Morning break for refreshments & networking

    11.15     Focus: Trade credit insurance

    • Exploring the availability and sustainability of credit terms within the industry
    • What are the benefits of trade credit insurance in B2B relationships?
    • Comparing different solutions and the impact on day to day business of policy holders
    • What impact are the big credit insurance companies having on the OP industry?
    • How should companies approach this issue?  What are the important strategic issues that they should be considering?
      Martin Loag, Trade Credit Specialist, Chubb

    11.45     Workplace: Trends, change and opportunity

    • Driving employee productivity with intelligent workplace design
    • Adopting an evidence-based approach to workplace management
    • How can we accurately measure well-being and productivity?
    • Workplace transformation as a vehicle to initiate cultural change and drive innovation
      – what evidence is there of a genuine ROI?
      Philip Tidd, Principal & Head of Consulting Europe, Gensler

     12.15     Conclusion and wrap up

     12.30     Lunch – Coelln Restaurant, First Floor

    14.00     Close of European Forum 2019

    The European Forum 2019 is being held at the fabulous Westin Grand Berlin.

    Located on the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden, and a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate, the Westin Grand Hotel is a perfect venue for this year’s Forum.

    The Westin Grand Berlin
    Friedrichstraße 158-164
    Berlin 10117

    Room Reservations

    Our room block at the Westin Grand Berlin has now sold out and the hotel has very limited availability. If you require a reservation please email

    Alternatively you can contact the hotel reservations team directly at:

    Booking to attend the OPI European  Forum:

    Super Early rate: available until 8 February 2019

    • 1 Ticket – €2,295.00
    • Second delegate – €1,750.00

    Early rate: available from 9 February to 26 April 2019

    • 1 Ticket – €2,495.00
    • Second delegate – €1,850.00

    Standard rate: available from 27 April 2019

    • 1 Ticket – €2,995.00
    • Second delegate – €1,995.00

    Independent Dealer (turnover less than €150M) €1,650.00

    OPI corporate members are entitled to free and discounted places at the Forums. If you are a Club Member please contact to reserve your place. If you are interested in more information about corporate membership please contact Chris Exner  at or visit

    Reduced Fees

    We have arranged a limited number of subsidised places to assist the attendance of certain delegates. This is a special rate for small but innovative reseller companies or delegates with unusual travel expenses, for example.

    There are a limited number of discounted places available, and we review each request on its merits. As an un-sponsored event the costs to host the European Forum are high, but the lack of sponsorship ensures a better quality of debate and avoids sales pitches. We therefore kindly ask that you do not ask for a discounted rate if it is not applicable to you, so we can offer the places to those who really need them. This will ensure a more diverse audience and a better experience for everyone.

    We appreciate your understanding.

    For more information please contact  directly.

    3M, ACCO Brands, Acme United, ADVEO, AIA Corporation, ALSO International, Amax Incorporated, AOPD, Avery, Basics Office Products, Baumgartens, Bi-Silque, Bluefish, BPGI, Brassard Fournitures & Ameublement de bureau, Brother, Bruneau, Buffetti, Clover, COLOP, Complete Office Supplies, Corwell, CPD, DC Mayorista, Domtar, Deflecto, ECi, Egan Reid, EO Group, EOSA, ESG, Esselte, Essendant, Fellowes, Forms & Supply, Friends Business Source, FSIoffice, FusionPLUS Data, GMi Companies, Gorilla Stationers, Gould Paper, Guernsey, Highlands, HiTouch Business Services, HP, HSM, IBM, Independent Stationers, Innovative Office Solutions, Integra, Interaction, ISSA, Lyreco, Messe Frankfurt, Midwest Resource Group, Miller’s Office Products, Network Services, Novexco, NPD, Office Basics, Office Brands, Office Choice, Office Club, Office Depot, Office Friendly, Officeworks,, OWiba, PBS Holding, PEG, Pilot Pen, Pinnacle Affiliates, Plaisio, PrintFleet, Printus, Pukka Pads, Really Useful Products, Schoen and Associates, Shoplet, Smead, Socialwise Partners, Source Office & Technology, Spicers, SP Richards, Staples, Superstat, Supplies Network, JM Smucker, TOPS, TriMega, TSRC, Turning Point Strategy, Victor Technology, Warehouse Direct,
    WW Grainger, Waltons, Wist Office Products, Xerox, Zebra Pen