Editor’s comment

The future looks bright

Spring is in the air and all around us we hear birds chirping in the office products industry. As the roads become dry enough for the Formula 1 season to kick off this month and the most depressing day of the year has long gone (the last Monday of January, apparently), the outlook in the market is starting to brighten.

The news from Messe Frankfurt is that Paperworld 2011 saw a giant 12% increase in visitor numbers, and the European Office Products Awards (EOPA) were better attended than ever. Could it be that people are finally starting to emerge with the thaw?

It’s also that time of year when fourth quarter results start piling in, and here we are seeing some positive signs around the globe. For example, both Nordics office supplier Wulff and paper manufacturer M-Real posted profits for 2010 compared to significant losses a year earlier. Officeworks in Australia and 3M also experienced a boost last quarter, while Luxor in India is looking to expand further in the year to come. The picture may not be rosy for everyone, but many businesses are capitalising on new opportunities and taking 2011 in their stride.

As we discovered in last issue’s Hot Topic, there are many challenges facing the industry at the moment, but also many areas for development. It has been hammered home many times that the internet is a vital sales tool for all businesses, and this month’s Hot Topic provides an insight into the workings of Amazon, which took the title of Reseller of the Year in this year’s EOPA. The online retailer is taking the world by storm, and the office products sector is certainly not exempt.

It’s early days, but the team here at OPI is getting some very good vibes about the rest of 2011. For a start, the 20th anniversary of OPI will fall in November this year and we’re already planning our celebrations. Watch out for more on this later in the year because we will be asking you to get involved.

There are plenty of other ways to getting into the swing of a brighter future by helping to develop content for OPI’s publications. We have a number of supplements coming up and I am looking for content ideas. The annual Technology Solutions for US Office Products Dealers will be published in May, and our ever-growing Green Thinking will come out in September. What do you think is the most pressing environmental issue for our industry? Will the ‘carbon neutral’ concept have as big an impact on products as rumours suggest?

These and other topics will be investigated in Green Thinking, so if you have an opinion, let me know.

In the meantime, if you have any burning issues that you want to get off your chest and share with your peers, send me a Personal View.