Monthly comment by Stephen White

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I write as we put the finishing touches on the magazine you now hold in your hand or are viewing on your screen. It also marks the end of my first month as part of the OP industry and already it feels like years. In a good way, I hasten to add.

It certainly helped having my first major trade show coincide with the first few weeks I really couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome by those of you I managed to meet in person at the event. However, nothing brings an industry alive more than seeing it in action and I look forward to actually getting out and seeing it for real in the coming months.

My immersion has been so rapid, I am now not sure what a world without dealers, channels and wholesalers spinning in a universe of corporate politics, economics, ecology and geo-politics would look like.

Even for a journalist who covered defence shortly before the divisive war in Iraq, tobacco as public bans swept across the globe and shook the industry, and agri-business commodities as a boom in biofuels collapsed under the weight of environmental opposition and worries over the world’s food supply, it has been an interesting month.

Whether it’s the to-ing and fro-ing at Office Depot or the continuing saga of the Staples/CE (non)merger, the news wires have been buzzing fairly continuously.

Perhaps surprisingly, I’m finding myself agreeing with the sentiments of Simon Drakeford as I see many similarities from my past experiences. This is an industry that, like others, faces many challenges, some of which are outside of its control, and is striving to tackle the opportunities presented by the global marketplace. However, with its sensitivity to the consumer that lies at the end of the chain of channels, the OP industry is also a leader in many areas that other industries would do well to learn from. Its CSR and conservation programmes and philosophies make many of the readers of this magazine thought-leaders in those fields. Even if they do not realise it just yet.

This is also an industry that one feels is cautiously optimistic and won’t be talked into a recession. It bodes well for the future.

We have instigated our own recession-proofing measures at OPI and certainly won’t be standing still in 2008. We have expanded our global news coverage this issue and added more stories to the mergers and acquisitions section, although that has had less to do with a conscious effort on our part and more with the shifting landscape of the business. As ever, if it’s up to the minute news you need, don’t forget to visit opi.net.

Look out for other new features to the magazine in the coming months. I am especially keen to ensure that OPI magazine continues to reflect and cover the issues that affect its readers the most. The door for your comments, feedback and criticism will remain open.

We have the OPI Europe 2008 conference in Rome in May and will once again be holding the Chinese Office Products Awards in November (the call for entries has now been posted on the opi.net website) at Paperworld China.

All in all, it’s been a busy month but as first impressions go, it has been a good one – thank you.

Stephen White, editor