The European Office Products Awards 2007 took place during Paperworld Frankfurt to celebrate the cream of the European OP crop. The lavish ceremony was staged in the city’s Congress Center Messe Frankfurt.
At the industry’s biggest European networking event, renowned speaker John Simonett hosted the evening’s festivities and ensured an enjoyable night was had by all.
The first award of the night was in recognition of the best New Product Launch. New products are essential for growth in the OP industry. The judges were looking for a product launch that had it all – innovation, cutting-edge design and style, a creative marketing campaign and financial success.
After much deliberation by the esteemed judging panel, the award went to Esselte in recognition of the launch of its Leitz 180° Lever Arch File range. The panel was impressed by the product launch, which has rejuvenated the company’s sales in what is a 100-year-old product category, and its success in breathing life back into a commodity.
Esselte’s product group director Edwin Mark and Arild Olsen, VP of product marketing, were warmly welcomed onto the stage to receive the award from Jean Louis Coustenoble, VP of merchandising at Staples Europe Catalogue. Commenting on the win, Esselte’s Koen Buyst said: "Clearly, industry peers are recognising more and more of the products coming out of our innovation pipeline at Esselte. With an extensive list of new product introductions currently being presented to our trade partners for 2007 and 2008, the future looks even brighter."
The second award to be presented was the accolade in acknowledgement of the Reseller of the Year. In bestowing this award, the judges were looking to recognise an established reseller making a difference in its markets while performing consistently.
OTTO Office stood out from the crowd because of its consistent and clinical execution of its cohesive business model over the last few years. The award was presented to the company’s general manager, Roy Vieregge, and its director of purchasing, Christian Langvad by Vincent Vanderpol, Hewlett-Packard’s VP and general manager of the EMEA imaging and printing division.
Langvad said: "I can hardly find the right words to express our pride in winning the ‘Oscar’ of our industry. The shortlist was impressively long and filled with admirable companies that all deserved an award. I believe we made the difference through the principle of sustainability that each individual in our company is enthusiastic about. The award confirms that not only the pursuit of size but also real passion in serving customers can provide a fundamental competitive advantage."
Next came the accolade in recognition of the Emerging Reseller of the Year. In a hotly fought contest, Pragmatic Express emerged as the winner after impressing the judges with its dramatic rise to become Russia’s number two contract stationer, reporting annual revenues of over $60 million in just seven years since it was born. The judges were even more impressed, however, by the company’s ability to grow 50 percent last year despite challenging logistics and IT problems caused by its relentless expansion strategy.
Andrey Kudryashev, Pragmatic’s managing director, happily accepted the award from presenter Werner Kaelin, 3M’s European business unit manager for office supplies. Kudryashev said: "Our winning of the Reseller of the Year award was unexpected and a very pleasant surprise. Last year was a hard one for Pragmatic Express and so it is especially positive for us that the judging panel thought so highly of us."
This year’s Marketing Initiative went to Fellowes in recognition of its National Identity Fraud Prevention Week campaign. Having clearly illustrated its objectives, budgets and return on investment, Fellowes was rewarded by the panel for its creativity and market flair. The campaign boosted the company’s sales by 600 percent in its first few weeks while helping to revitalise the shredder category. The judges were also grateful to the Fellowes campaign for raising the profile of the office products industry in the eyes of the consumer.
Andrea Davies, president of Fellowes Europe, collected the award from Simon Guffogg, managing director of M-real. Davies said: "We are absolutely thrilled and delighted to receive industry recognition for our work and on behalf of Fellowes, I would like to thank the EOPA panel for recognising our identity fraud campaign in this way and, above all, our customers and partners for supporting the campaign."
She continued: "Paperworld 2007 has been an extremely successful show for Fellowes and winning this award is a great start to the year. We have a marketing calendar filled with activities designed to build our brand and drive demand for our fantastic new range of business machines across Europe. And so 2007 promises to be a very exciting year for Fellowes and our customers."
Environmental commitment was the theme for the next two awards of the evening. The Environmental Responsibility award was presented in two categories – to a reseller and to a vendor. Office Depot UK was deemed the worthy winner of the reseller award, having demonstrated its commitment to environmental issues with its company-wide initiative to reduce its landfill waste by 75 percent and via its Green Book. Office Depot UK’s Jackie Thompson, environment manager for the UK and Ireland, was on hand to accept the award from Marcel Ringeard, CEO of Pilot Corporation of Europe.
The vendor award went to Faber-Castell in acknowledgement of its history of environmental stewardship. The company’s managed plantation project in Brazil, which sees over one million trees replanted every year and 20 cubic metres of timber regenerated every hour, was highly commended by the panel. Karl-Heinz Raue, head of trade marketing and customer development, who collected the award, said: "Of course the entire team of our company and Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell in particular were delighted to hear about the award. It is proof for our company that sustainability in every aspect is a basis for long-term success. The award should certainly help us to further increase the awareness and opportunity of the Faber-Castell brand and products and also for the B2B-sector of our industry."
Kingfield Heath was named the proud winner of the Wholesaler/Distributor of the Year category. The judges were looking for evidence of an unrivalled range and quality of services that help customers compete more effectively. The panel agreed that Kingfield Heath has worked hard to delight its loyal dealer base. A consistent focus on partnership, innovation and customer service appears to be paying dividends – it is widely predicted that in 2007, Kingfield Heath will overtake Spicers to become the largest office products wholesaler in the UK. Jan Van Belleghem, director of InterACTION, collected the award on behalf of Kingfield Heath from HERMA’s international marketing manager, Achim Roederer.
Speaking of the success, CEO Alan Barclay commented: "Over the past year Kingfield Heath has enjoyed considerable success, winning several business awards, which reflect our commitment to be the partner of choice to all suppliers and resellers within our industry. The European Office Products Awards are designed to acknowledge businesses within our industry that consistently innovate and strive to deliver the best possible products and services to their customers. Receiving this award is a great boost to our team and reinforces our commitment in continuing to develop our supply chain partnerships even further."
In awarding the Established Vendor of the Year title, the judging panel was looking for evidence of consistent product development, supply chain excellence and a history of delighting customers and consumers. BIC fought off stiff competition in winning this award. After much discussion, the panel decided that BIC’s heritage, relentless focus on customer care and success in difficult product categories made this famous French company a worthy winner. BIC’s general manager of European operations, Michael Durand, and EMEA business account director, Peter Van den Broeck, accepted the award from Messe Frankfurt’s Ruth Lorenz.
The Emerging Vendor of the Year award was bestowed on Really Useful Products. The category seeks to find emerging, less well-known vendors that are challenging the dominance of the bigger manufacturers, and rewards top-line performance, geographical growth and creativity.
Really Useful Products grew by 79 percent last year. However, the judges were more impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude of the management team, which is now confidently poised to shake up the American storage box market as well. The company’s director, Mike Pickles, and regional business manager, Katrin Andersson, collected the award from Peter Ventress, president of Corporate Express Europe. Speaking after winning the award, Pickles said: "It was great to receive acknowledgement from our industry that we are making a contribution to enhance the industry. We have had a great deal of congratulation from other vendors and have already shown the award at a Belgian exhibition and this will be travelling around with us. My initial reaction was for us to now set our sights firmly on receiving the Established Vendor of the Year award and to rise to the challenge of bringing innovation to our industry."
Büroring was named Dealer Group of the Year, having successfully demonstrated a broad and industry-leading package of resources for its members. It was also able to clearly differentiate itself from its competition. The award was bestowed on the German group in recognition of the strength of its programmes and ability to help its members achieve success in one of Europe’s most competitive and stagnant markets. Irene Dengler, HSM’s director of corporate companies, welcomed Büroring managing director Carsten Marckmann to the stage to collect the trophy.
In deliberating over this year’s nominations for the Young Professional of the Year award, the judges wanted to present the accolade to an individual already making a significant contribution to his or her company’s success. This award hopes to honour the office product industry leaders of tomorrow. After much heated debate over a talented shortlist, Bjarne Mindested, VP of Central, Northern and Eastern Europe at Avery Dennison Zweckform Office Products Europe, beat off his competition. Mindested’s achievements and steady, consistent rise through the ranks at Avery Dennison marked him out as a star of the future. Tom Hamic, sales and marketing director of European papers for International Paper Belgian Services, presented Mindested’s trophy.
Commenting on his win, he said: "I am delighted to have been awarded the 2007 Young Professional of the Year award. Getting this recognition is a fantastic reward for me personally but even more so for the people working with me at Avery Dennison who continue to deliver great results in a challenging and very competitive market. I would like to thank OPI, Messe Frankfurt and especially the judging panel for this award and I look forward to continuing to work with all the great people within the dynamic office products industry."
The final award of the evening, a highly prized acknowledgement of an individual’s outstanding contribution to the European office products industry, was bestowed on Stéphane Hamelin, president of Hamelin Groupe. He was very warmly welcomed on stage to be presented with the award in recognition of his remarkable career by OPI CEO, Steve Hilleard.
And so the evening drew to a close as guests were invited to the lounge to toast their success and unwind, many staying as late as one o’clock in the morning.
Commenting on a successful night, OPI‘s Ritu Lukhman said: "We were very happy with how this year’s awards night unfolded. We especially want to thank Messe Frankfurt and all of our sponsors and we look forward to another great ceremony next year."
Industry Achievement – Stéphane Hamelin
This year’s Industry Achievement award was bestowed on Stéphane Hamelin. He has been in a position of some authority since he joined his present company back in the late 1980s. During that time, he has led a remarkable expansion of his family business from sales of about €100 million when he joined to around €700 million today. In the process, this 142-year-old business has expanded into over 60 countries, manufacturing in about ten of them, and employing over 4,000 staff.
Remarkably, his company continues to thrive in traditional categories. Products including envelopes, books, pads, and filing continue to dominate Groupe Hamelin’s portfolio. And having taken his company from strength-to-strength, Hamelin’s reserved approach to publicity belies a fierce commercial intellect.