When Lyreco struck a deal to buy Ahrend Office Products (AOP) last month, the European Office Supplies Alliance took a nasty clip in the process.
As a result of the deal, Ahrend, one of EOSA’s three founding members along with office2office and Tybring-Gjedde, gave notice of having to leave the pan-European partnership formed in 2002. EOSA also lost its chairman, AOP chief Oswald Van Even, and he has been replaced with office2office head Ray Peck.
"Of course there was an element of surprise," Peck says of the acquisition of Ahrend. But with the dust settled, it is now up to Peck and the EOSA think-tank to fill a pretty huge void that leaves them short in Germany and the Netherlands.
"As with all changes, opportunity is created," Peck says. "The departure of Ahrend provides an excellent opportunity for leading European OP businesses to participate in EOSA. It is encouraging that we already have a number of exploratory meetings scheduled with some excellent businesses in these countries (Germany and the Netherlands)."
Peck also dismisses suggestions that the Lyreco deal appealed to Ahrend because it had been unable to grow its presence in Europe as it would have liked through EOSA.
"That’s probably not a fair comment," Peck states. "Seven EOSA member companies achieved turnover growth rates in excess of 5 per cent last year and overall the combined sales of EOSA members (excluding Ahrend) grew by 8 per cent, which we believe is ahead of many businesses in this industry."
Peck also insists that all EOSA members are fully behind the group. "EOSA members are committed to maintaining the alliance’s growth and bringing the significant benefits of EOSA multi-national supply arrangements to more customers," he reiterates.
A final positive note for EOSA is that the newly merged company of Andvord Tybring-Gjedde, consisting of EOSA founder member Tybring-Gjedde and Rich Andvord, is to continue to utilise the group’s sales and marketing programme. Regarding this news, Peck adds, "We will be delighted to work with a partner in Scandinavia that is producing sales of €315 million."