There are companies that manage to marry the old with the new, the traditional with the modern. Kaut-Bullinger is one of them and nowhere was this more evident than at its customer day (‘Kundentag’ in German), held at the company’s HQ in Taufkirchen, just outside Munich, on 19 July.
The one-day event kicked off with a press conference that, with the exception of OPI, mostly involved the German trade press. And it set the scene for a day packed full of information and insight into the company. The stats were impressive: the ‘Kundentag’ attracted over 700 customers to one of Germany’s largest independent multichannel operators – that’s up from 500 for the previous 2011 event.
In addition, 80 manufacturers from four different product categories – engineering & imaging, office technology, office furniture and office supplies – displayed their wares to those that ultimately use them and they did so with great enthusiasm. Originality of display – the words informative, gimmicky and interactive also spring to mind – was clearly important. What was also evident is that the company’s office systems division, the Büro-Systemhaus which incorporates three of these four product segments, is becoming ever more important and is in fact the fastest growing part of the company.
Emerging technologies like 3D printing, sophisticated LED lighting concepts and generally-speaking a more solutions and service-orientated approach are a big focus now, said Cordula Adamek, the division’s Managing Director, and have become a definite USP of Kaut-Bullinger. This is particularly important in light of a tough B2B market and a continuously challenging and generally declining retail environment.
That said, Kaut-Bullinger’s flagship store in the centre of Munich has been enjoying great success over the past few months following a major renovation project, but its other regional stores have not been faring so well and are performing below expectations, Managing Director of the company’s retail segment, Jürgen Diebold, added.
A new feature this year was the standalone so-called Made in Germany exhibition area, where ten exhibitors including edding, Ideal and Sigel showed and explained the benefits of producing locally.
In many ways closely linked to the local focus, there was a big emphasis on sustainability, with a specific display area for the company’s various environmental efforts. The topic also ran like a thread through several of the seven presentations that were part of the overall offer of the day and where customers could learn about subjects ranging from sustainability over e-procurement solutions and 3D printing to document management and MPS.
What was undoubtedly a highlight for many customers were the well-attended tours of Kaut-Bullinger’s logistics operation that ran at various times of the day. They not only showed the intricate details of fulfilling an order but also highlighted one of the biggest challenges the reseller is facing at the moment – capacity.
As Group Managing Director Johannes Peter Martin put it, the current warehouse is bursting at the seams and is in desperate need of expansion, especially if more acquisitions are on the agenda (which he added they are).
Plans to that effect are underway, with an adjacent field already having been bought, but planning and building permission issues are currently delaying any real headway. Martin is positive, however, that building will hopefully start in 2016, but at the latest in 2017. The intention is that the new warehouse, will eventually house the firm’s entire logistics operation.
That’s just one of the big plans on Martin’s agenda, plus of course topping attendance levels and customer satisfaction at the next Kundentag in 2015!