Event Preview: OPI Global Forum 2016

The OPI Global Forum injects a much-needed strategic shot in the arm for an industry that is going through much change.


The sixth OPI Global Forum – which takes place in Chicago from 13-15 November – will deliver real strategic business insights while tackling head-on the unique challenges of the business supplies industry.

Held at the Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile (formerly the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower), two of the main topics of discussion will most certainly revolve around the fallout from the now-defunct Staples/Office Depot merger and the rising threat from Amazon Business. 

But these will not be the only subjects up for debate. Wider macroeconomic issues such as Brexit, the global economy and the US election – the latter will have just happened – will no doubt be hotbeds of conversation.

As an invitation-only event, the Forum brings together senior executives from around the globe from leading wholesalers, manufacturers and resellers in both traditional and increasingly non-traditional business supplies categories. 

OPI CEO Steve Hilleard says: “I am delighted that the turnout for this year’s event has already exceeded last year’s record. Just as satisfying, however, is the outstanding attendance by representatives of the independent reseller community. A quarter of participants will be CEOs from many of the most progressive large dealers in North America, Europe and Australia.”

He adds: “Leaders in the industry need an effective forum to discuss the challenges and possibilities in today’s sector and the OPI Global Forum provides that unique opportunity.”

Up for discussion

This year’s Forum will be chaired by industry stalwart Robert Baldrey, who has racked up more than 25 years in the business supplies industry. He recently moderated OPI’s European Forum with great success, and will open the Global Forum with an overview of the state of the industry. 

Then, over the next two days, some of the themes covered are: 

  • The transformation of retail and distribution
  • Content marketing
  • Internet of Things
  • E-commerce
  • Mergers and consolidation

In addition to the main agenda, there is the opportunity for more intimate discussions during the roundtable sessions on the first day of the event. Topics in these include e-commerce and price transparency, control of online content, shifting trends in office refreshments, customer activism and 3D printing. 

In a high-profile Power Panel session, OPI’s Hilleard will interview some of the biggest names in the industry: Essendant CEO Bob Aiken, SP Richards CEO Wayne Beacham, ADVEO CEO Jaime Carbó, Staples Vice Chairman Joe Doody, and 3M Global Business Director – Stationery & Office Supplies Jeff Hillins. 

Abundant networking

One of the key benefits of attending the OPI Global Forum is the rare opportunity for delegates to engage in high-level networking in an intimate setting and under Chatham House rules. There is plenty of time over the course of the event to meet newcomers and catch up with old friends, colleagues and peers – from the drinks reception and welcome dinner, to structured groups or informal gatherings for more private discussions.

For more details, visit opi.net/gf2016. If you would like to attend the event, email Steve Hilleard at steve.hilleard@opi.net. Please note that space is extremely limited.