Depot details Viking switch-off



27 July 2007 — Delray Beach (FL): Office Depot has detailed its proposed strategy to withdraw the Viking brand from the European retail market.


Company chiefs have revealed their plans to remove the Viking name and focus on being a single supplier name.


Depot CEO Steve Odland said the process would be a "multi-year" programme of gradual dual-branding. And it was revealed the programme may be scrapped altogether if the switch over meets customer resistance.


At an analyst conference earlier this week, Odland said: "The way to think about this is that we are going to add the Office Depot name to the cover of the Viking catalogue for a multi-year period to start getting Viking customers to understand that we are Office Depot, to introduce the Office Depot private brand and to go through a slow, deliberate, multi-year conversion.


"If we find that there is resistance to it, we won’t do it. And that’s what a multi-year process of dual-branding allows us to do. It also allows us to access cross-channel shoppers, which are the best shoppers, and to leverage the business across Europe."


Charles Brown, president of Depot International, added: "I think the important thing to consider is how we are going to go about it. Initially, all we are doing is putting a co-brand Office Depot/Viking label on the cover of the Viking catalogue and on our delivery boxes. It’s not a wholesale change.


"Moving to Office Depot removes a tremendous amount of complexity out of the back office in terms of being able to simplify your SKU assortment, being able to simplify your marketing materials and actually being able to prospect across multiple customer databases.


"Importantly, in this whole transition, we are not going to touch the business model that has really built a very loyal following. And so it’s really a kind of re-education of the customer."


Last month OPI exclusively reported that Dirk Collin, EVP and managing director of Office Depot Europe, had told OPI’s eurOPe 2007 conference that the retailer’s vision for the future would include pursuing a single-brand strategy on a global level.