Global contract stationer Lyreco has announced three new strategic partnerships in the last few weeks in India, Turkey and the Baltic states. Coming after earlier 2012 agreements in Russia, Brazil, Romania and Argentina, the reseller now has a presence in 44 markets worldwide. It is certainly a show of strength from the France-based group as the international operations of big box rivals Staples and Office Depot come under the spotlight.
“In accordance with our strategic plan, there are clearly some geographies or markets we have identified as potential partnership targets,” Group Marketing Director John Watson told OPI, without going into more detail. However, with agreements in three of the four ‘BRIC’ markets tied up in the last 12 months, it would not be surprising to see China finally added to the map this year.
In Europe, the addition of six countries in the last few months has certainly given Lyreco widespread coverage on the continent. You have to look east to countries such as the Ukraine, or south-east to the Balkans region before finding a market that Lyreco doesn’t have a presence in. Watson called this coverage in Europe – a direct presence in 20 countries plus six exclusive partnerships – “unrivalled” and noted that the largest and most demanded markets (by Lyreco’s global accounts) have now been covered.
Watson called the timing of the agreement announcements coming together in a narrow time frame “purely coincidental”. “The most important thing is to align procedures upfront with our new partner and then jointly agree a roll-out
plan to gradually implement locally our existing global accounts and to win new business together,” he explained.
Here is a brief overview of Lyreco’s three newest partners:
This was perhaps the least surprising partnership announcement; Lyreco is understood to have had an informal relationship with Akoffice for the last few years.
Istanbul-based Akoffice has annual sales of around €18 million ($24 million), employs approximately 150 staff and is the B2B arm of the Akçay group which also includes office products wholesaling and retail operations.
Based in Latvia, Officeday also has operations in Lithuania and Estonia. It is active in B2B contract sales, wholesale and retail – it has 22 stores in Lithuania, 14 of which are franchised. Its 2012 sales were €21 million ($27.5 million) and it employs over 200 staff.
The group has evolved from a number of mergers and acquisitions and has been trading under the Officeday name since 2008. It formerly belonged to the acquisitive Icelandic group Penninn which went bankrupt in 2009, after which it was taken over by one of Penninn’s creditors, Icebank. Incidentally, another former Penninn asset, Officeday Finland, was acquired by Lyreco from New Kaupthing Bank in 2010.
Benir, e-Store Solutions, India
The smallest of the new partners is in the market with the largest potential for growth. Bangalore-based Benir has sales of around $7 million, but boasts a comprehensive distribution infrastructure in India’s major markets. Founded in 2002, Benir now employs around 120 people. It developed an e-commerce solution for customers in 2005 and currently around 25-30% of orders are placed online, with the majority of orders still coming via telephone and fax. The company is predicting a major shift in these ordering patterns over the next two years as more customers are encouraged to order online, and it is well-placed to cater for a shift in purchasing habits in India as multi-location companies become more aware of the benefits of a more sophisticated one-stop solution.
Benir operates a three-tiered membership system ranging from silver to premium. The premium tier offers a wider range of discounts, support and credit facilities than the silver or gold levels, the goal being to tie customers into committing a greater level of their overall spend with Benir.
The company has developed a small private label range in categories such as printer consumables and is looking to expand this as it grows sales. It is also pushing eco-friendly products, something that surely ticked a box with Lyreco.