Research: A new world

Plenty happened in 2019, much of it groundbreaking and unprecedented. US dealer groups Independent Suppliers Group, Pinnacle Affiliates and TriMega Purchasing Association finally merged; Staples Inc’s owner Sycamore Partners completed the acquisition of wholesaler Essendant; the last remaining UK OP superstore, Office Outlet (previously Staples), went into administration; ADVEO’s operations in France and Benelux were bought by private equity firm Sandton Capital Partners; and RAJA acquired four of Staples Solutions’ European direct brands (see Big Interview).

These developments and many more are explored and analysed in the latest report researched and published by Martin Wilde Associates (MWA) and OPI respectively. The View From The Top: The State Of The OP Industry Report 2019-20 is the seventh annual market research study of its kind; it is based on more than 60 in-depth interviews with senior OP industry executives from around the world and their perceptions and forecasts.

Survey results show that core OP sales were resilient in 2019, with more than half of the respondents indicating that traditional product sales had increased versus 2018. That said, the most widely reported growing categories were in adjacencies such as breakroom, jan/san and PPE.

Another finding is that a majority of executives were looking to acquire another business in 2020, although less than half were interested in buying an OP specialist.

Different dimension

But the world has been shaken to its core, of course. Historically – and the aforementioned examples illustrate that – there has been change that affects a company, its employees, customers and immediate market. What we’re experiencing now is upheaval on a completely different scale.

Since interviews for this report were carried out, the COVID-19 pandemic has struck. With it have come unprecedented new realities. Adjacent categories such as PPE and jan/san have indeed grabbed the headlines and grown beyond all expectations for many operators. But what happened to many of the other plans and aspirations? Some will undoubtedly have been dashed, while others have taken on a different direction completely, if only to have a chance to survive the current crisis.

To ensure that a genuine and up-to-date assessment of the market conditions in 2020 is obtained, which factor in the inescapable recent, ongoing and future COVID-19 realities, survey respondents will be invited to review and revise their initial estimates and opinions in a number of areas. Carried out by MWA and published by OPI later in the year as a supplement to the original report, these updates will be free of charge to all those who purchase the survey.

OP industry sourcebook

The State Of The OP Industry Report 2019-20 provides – and will continue to do so – a firm perspective on what is happening in our sector, before as well as during COVID-19. From product demand and distribution, underlying and evolving trends, to market fears and opportunities, this authoritative sourcebook for the OP industry aims to provide the answer. Topics covered in the current and updated report include:

  • The value of the core OP market in 2019/2020.
  • The extent to which the core market is expected to change during and after COVID-19.
  • The value of the addressable facilities supplies market – and its key constituent categories.
  • Product categories that are actively being developed by survey respondents.
  • The share of the core OP market held by Amazon/Amazon Business in the countries that were surveyed; which type of customer does this operator most successfully capture?
  • The future of OP wholesaling in each country.
  • The extent to which OP vendors are looking to develop sales outside of the ‘conventional’ office products channels.

Please visit www.opi.net/soti2020 for more information about The View From
The Top: The State Of The OP Industry Report 2019-20 and to order your copy.