To say 2018 has been another interesting year in the business supplies industry would be an understatement. Some of the broad concepts – from a macro as well as industry-specific perspective – haven’t changed fundamentally, while other developments are set to substantially alter the make-up of our sector.
Overall demand for traditional OP is steady at best, and in decline in many countries. As a result, distributors continue to report increasing sales of alternative product categories and services, particularly facilities supplies and business gifts. This in itself raises several questions: what is the current value of the core OP market, how has this changed in 2018, what is the forecast for 2019, and which of its sub-categories are faring the worst and best?
And talking of sub-categories, what is the estimated size of the available market for facilities supplies? In which of the segments that this group encompasses are distributors seeing the most growth at present? What impact does all of this have on margins – which types of OP distributors are bucking the margin-pressure trend and why?
Every year, the structure of the supply chain and its various channels changes a little, much of it due to e-commerce as a preferential OP ordering method. What channels won and lost share in 2018 and which are most expected to benefit in 2019?
Linked to that is the debate around Amazon. What has been the reaction in Australia to the arrival of the e-commerce firm, for instance? The online giant’s B2B Amazon Business operation, meanwhile, is now firmly established in many countries and widely recognised as a fast-growing player in this market. What share of the core OP market is Amazon Business now believed to have, and where is it most successful?
Finally, there are very specific questions around some of the operators in our industry. From a North American point of view, for example, what has been the reaction in the USA and Canada to the likely acquisition of Essendant by Staples Inc? Over in Europe, what are opinions about the future survival of ADVEO, and how will the wholesale landscape look if the company doesn’t survive?
Who can answer all of these questions and many more and provide a reliable yardstick against which senior executives in our sector can assess their own perceptions and strategies? Martin Wilde Associates (MWA) – specialist researchers to the global OP market – and OPI are working together again for the sixth edition of their annual research report, The View from the Top: The State of the OP Industry 2018-19. Some of the core elements of this must-have authoritative sourcebook for the OP industry include:
- The state of the OP markets in the US, Canada, Benelux, France, Germany, UK and Australia, based on data collected from in-depth and online interviews with senior OP industry executives in these countries.
- The 2018 financial performance of the key 15 OP distributors in the US and Europe, as well as the main industry events of 2018.
- Analysis and commentary from Martin Wilde, supplemented by data and analysis from OPI.