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The month in news

 

It looks like sales are taking a hit in both the retail and delivery markets; companies in the banking, finance, insurance and real estate sectors – key clients for OP business delivery – are among some of the worst hit by the global economic crisis and all indications are that consumers are reining in their spending at store level.

 

OPI went to press before many of the major OP players released their quarterly results, but there was certainly not much cause for optimism.

 

Shares in companies, such as OfficeMax, Office Depot, ACCO and Staples have all taken a hammering over the last month, with only the latter inspiring any confidence from market analysts due to its leading position and potential opportunities from the Corporate Express acquisition.

 

Retailers in the consumer electronics sector such as Circuit City and DSGi have fared just as badly, if not worse.

 

Of course, those that have come off worse were already in trouble before the crisis deepened.
Much-vaunted turnaround plans have so far failed to deliver – key and experienced staff members have left and anecdotal evidence suggests that employee morale at some companies is at an all time low.

 

It will be interesting to see over the coming months how some of these company leaders deal with the worsening economic situation – or if some of them are out of a job by the time the next issue of OPI is published!

 

Andy Braithwaite, News Editor, OPI

 

Viking cautioned about oversized packaging

 

As Office Depot lauds its green credentials in Europe, Viking Direct has been cautioned by UK Trading Standards for using excessive packaging.

 

Viking was reported to Northamptonshire Trading Standards by a local business which received two correction tape rollers in a box that could have held hundreds of the items.Following an investigation, Office Depot agreed to sign a caution and carry out an internal investigation.

 

"At Viking Direct we pick, pack and despatch thousands of office supplies consignments to our customers every day," said Viking Direct’s General Manager, Richard Carvell.

 

"Our boxes, used in despatching our products are normally 80 percent of their capacity with many cartons despatched without any additional outer packaging. We take the Packaging Regulations 2003 very seriously and we regret that, on this occasion, incorrect data for a single product led to us using an outer box that was out of proportion to the contents.

 

"We’ve worked to investigate and fix this isolated issue and to improve further our packaging processes. We are currently working with a number of customers on an initiative that might remove the requirement for outer packaging all together."

 

AF completes Brazilian compliancy process

 

Office and computer cleaning products manufacturer AF International has completed the stringent Brazilian compliancy process for an assortment of its products.

 

HK Wentworth’s Brazilian office and manufacturing facilities have been operating since 2005 mainly in connection with AF’s sister brand Electrolube.

 

Now AF has launched 17 of its products in Brazil after obtaining the required registration code from the country’s National Health Surveillance Agency, ANVISA.

 

"Over the last year we have had to work extremely hard to successfully register our range with ANVISA, the governing body who all manufacturers of cleaning products in Brazil must comply with," said AF’s General Manager Brazil, Claudio Rancoleta.

 

"This was a very lengthy process but it is finally complete and the AF range is now fully compliant."
The products – which have special labelling in Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish – were launched at this year’s Escolar trade show at the beginning of September.

 

"We will now be undertaking extensive brand building and marketing in the Brazilian market over the next 12 months," added Rancoleta.

 

PaperlinX share offer falls short of target

 

Australian paper manufacturer and merchant PaperlinX has failed to raise its target of A$200 million ($132 million) in a share offering for institutional investors.

 

The company raised A$150 million from the offer – A$50 million short of its original target – as it looks to reduce its debt.

 

The target for the retail component of the offering has now been reduced from A$100 million to A$77 million.

 

The Victoria-based company has recently put its Tasmanian pulp mills up for sale and has also said that it hopes to raise A$20 million from the sell-off of some of its European assets.

 

Arnos on the move

 

Australian OP manufacturer Arnos is relocating its warehouse and head office in the New Year after 62 years in the Melbourne suburb of Cheltenham.

 

Arnos recently sold its head office, warehouses and principal manufacturing plant in Cheltenham and has invested A$1.4 million ($1 million) in a freestanding office-warehouse building located in nearby Keysborough.

 

The new Arnos property has 300m_ of air conditioned and partitioned office space and 1,150m_ of clear span warehouse space with a large internal cubic capacity.

 

Arnos will occupy the building for its head office, administration, sales and marketing and will use the warehouse space for general logistics and stock holding requirements.

 

The company will renovate and retain its second manufacturing facility in Cheltenham for its major plastics and metals manufacturing operations.

 

"Keysborough is an ideal location for us and the facilities will provide a more efficient and effective logistics centre for our increased national distribution commitments," said Managing Director Roger Henry.

 

"Furthermore, it will also offer easier access for the loading of our export container shipments."
Henry says his company will begin moving into the property in the New Year, but they still have a lease in place on their existing premises until June 2009.

 

Arnos’ new neighbours in Keysborough include Newell Rubbermaid’s office products division and Canson Australia.

 

Systemcare acquired by US group

 

UK manufacturer of hygiene and cleaning products Systemcare has been acquired by multi-billion dollar US industrial group ITW.

 

ITW – which stands for Illinois Tool Works – operates 825 businesses in 52 countries and in 2007 achieved sales in excess of $16 billion.

 

Systemcare says that the ITW approach is to invest in established and profitable companies and help them develop their businesses further using a decentralised model.

 

Simon Rex, Systemcare’s Managing Director, said that ITW had been attracted to the Birmingham-based company because of its international recognition as the leading company in the private brand category, its continual product development and focus on customer support.

 

"We forecast further significant growth over the next 3-5 years and recognised that we needed outside investment to underpin this," explained Rex.

 

"The approach by ITW earlier this year was timely and, after careful consideration and discussion, we felt that we had found the perfect partner to work with us. This will allow us to take another step forward as we invest for increased capacity and distribution and to fully exploit the exciting opportunities that we have identified for the further expansion and development of our business activities."

 

Rex also said that there would be no visible changes to the way the business is run and that Systemcare would continue to operate as an independent operating company under the ITW group umbrella.

 

"We will continue to manufacture and distribute from our own premises and the company will continue to be run by the existing management team which has seen 2008 as its most successful year yet," added Rex.

 

Systemcare Managing Director Simon Rex: "ITW investment will underpin significant growth."

 

Dutch office furniture manufacturer and supplier Samas has divested its struggling French operations. The group has agreed to an MBO by the existing French management team relating to 90 percent of the shareholding of Samas France. Samas will retain the remaining 10 percent shareholding in the business until 2011. The deal will see Samas’ sales turnover decrease by 26 percent – or 1100 million ($138 million) – but the company says that it will now be on a surer financial footing and can free up working capital and management time to focus on faster growing markets in central and eastern Europe. (Houten, Netherlands)

 

Leading northern California independent dealer AAA Business Supplies and Interiors has made its second acquisition of the year. Following January’s acquisition of Commercial Business Suppliers, San Francisco-based AAA has now purchased the customer list of General Office Systems (GOS). Stephen Pulvirenti, President of GOS, and the GOS staff will be joining AOPD member, AAA. (San Francisco, California, USA)

 

US independent dealer Guernsey Office Products has acquired the assets of another dealer in its home state of Virginia. Guernsey has acquired Richmond-based dealer Harold’s Business Supply, which trades as Discount Office Products. Guernsey says that Discount’s business in the Richmond market – where it has operated for 28 years – will provide an important logistics platform for Guernsey’s urban crescent trading footprint incorporating Baltimore, Washington DC, Richmond and Norfolk. (Chantilly, Virginia, USA)

 

Canon USA has acquired San Francisco document and print solutions reseller NEWCAL Industries. Canon looks set to acquire more independent distributors in a bid to shore up its US distribution channel and is sure to accelerate after Ricoh’s recent acquisition of IKON. (San Francisco, California, USA)