Comment February 2019

Starting off with a bang – here’s 2019!

Perhaps the time for saying “Happy New Year” has passed anyhow, but there’s simply no time to usher in the new year gently and talk about this year’s unattainable and soon-to-be-forgotten resolutions. What a couple of weeks we’ve had in the run-up to OPI going to press with this issue!

ADVEO being (part) bought by private equity firm Sandton Capital Partners; the closure of Essendant’s deal with Staples Inc being delayed; ACCO Brands in Australia acquiring again; Georgia-Pacific exiting the office paper category; Jeff Whiteway stepping down from SPOT Group; and the three biggest US dealer groups ready to merge – this month’s News section has been a work in progress to say the least.

All of the above stories will shake out in the weeks and months to come, and it certainly promises to be an interesting year. With regards to the merger of the US dealer groups in particular, we’re hoping to bring you much more next month. In that context, one of the first things that came to my mind when the news broke was: “Finally! When is this going to happen in the UK; when will the many UK groups combine resources, costs and expertise?” Surely, 2019 is the year for (some of) that too.

But before that happens, are we going to make any progress on Brexit before the crucial date of 29 March and steady the ever-moving goalposts for everyone concerned (and it is, quite literally, everyone affected in some way).

Brexit, other political, macroeconomic and industry issues are also discussed in this issue’s Hot Topic as Michelle Sturman gazes at her crystal ball.

Changing consumer behaviour is one of the themes discussed not just in the Hot Topic, but also in other features this month, including our Spotlight, writing instruments Category Update, and Final Word. With the latter in mind, I just love Isaac de la Fuente’s quote that “the gold standard of customer service is NO service at all”. From the outset, it appears like a controversial and even confrontational statement. Read in context, it makes perfect sense.

Have a great month (and, lest I forget, Happy New Year).