Spicers Germany to launch Calipage
Wholesaler to extend its successful French brand into the key German market
Spicers is targeting a 2012 launch for its Calipage dealer brand in Germany. The move comes as the wholesaler extends the brand – which it developed in France in the mid-1990s – into other continental European markets. It has already been rolled out in Spain and Benelux over the last 12 months.
"We believe that traditional German office products dealers will be put under more pressure from other channels and that the majority of them only have a chance to survive within a strong network such as Calipage," Spicers Germany Managing Director Thomas Apelrath told OPI.
Apelrath said the plan was to begin operating in early 2012 with around 150 affiliated dealers, with a longer-term target of 350. So far, Spicers has received 100 applications from dealers to join Calipage, Apelrath revealed.
The wholesaler is conducting roadshows in eight major German markets in February and March to promote the concept, with 300 dealers expected to attend.
Calipage in Germany will follow a similar affiliation model to France. Apelrath said Spicers was looking to attract small to mid-sized dealers that have customers with up to 250 staff.
"We are planning that the focus will be on B2B, but also believe that it is important – in order to penetrate the brand in the market – that we have dealers which are active in retail as well," he stated.
"The benefit for dealers is that they get a full service package for their communications, a strong brand image and awareness which they would not be able to create on their own, and better purchasing opportunities. All these will help them to survive against the large global players," he continued.
For Spicers, the model ties participating dealers into the wholesaler’s model, thus generating a greater proportion of sales with individual customers. The wholesaler also achieves economies of scale by rolling out the brand into different markets.
Apelrath said the decision to use the Calipage name in Germany had not been an issue. "The benefits of using the name across Europe are much bigger than the disadvantages," he said.
"We conducted a market survey and talked to a number of dealers beforehand. The results made us confident that Calipage in Germany would be well perceived by the dealer community," he added.
"The biggest challenge now is to get the critical mass of dealers within the next six months or so in order to enable us to begin nationwide advertising."
The initiative in Germany means that Italy and the UK are now Spicers’ two remaining ‘Calipage-less’ markets. Will they follow anytime soon? Extending the brand into Italy looks like it makes sense on the face of it, but a move into the UK could prove to be more challenging.