OPI+: You must be coming to the end of your transition period as president. How is it going so far? How do you feel about your new position?
Andrea Davis (AD): It’s been an extremely hectic but exciting few months and I am really looking forward to the future here at Fellowes. Following Peter Fellowes is a tough act but I am fortunate to be surrounded by a very talented and committed team, which has just been further strengthened by the appointment of Michel Van Beek as VP for sales and export.
OPI+: What are your priorities as president of Fellowes Europe?
AD: My priority is to continue to drive European insight into our product innovation pipeline, ensuring that we have excellent and consistent customer service across Europe and hiring the best possible to team to work with. To that end, I am delighted that Michel has joined us. He will be a great ally to work with as we grow our European business.
OPI+: How do you feel your career and previous position as EVP of finance and operations has prepared you for this role?
AD: I have had the privilege of working with Peter Fellowes for almost three years now and he has provided great insight into our market and business. In addition our European business is healthy and growing so I am fortunate to have a very positive platform to build from.
OPI+: There is a cautious optimism in the industry at present. Are you hopeful for the market this year?
AD: I think there are many exciting opportunities within the OP market place for those companies who are willing to invest and innovate. Companies need to be clear on direction and on where they want to be and if they have this clear focus and drive then I think 2006 can be a great year.
OPI+: How well is Fellowes Europe positioned to maintain its position and gain market share?
AD: At Fellowes we have an exciting history of product innovation and are set for an even more exciting future that will ensure Fellowes is completely customer- and consumer-focused and differentiated from other manufacturers.
If you look at our shredder business, for example, we have really driven the market here, from introducing the first personal shredder over a decade ago to our latest innovation, Safe Sense. Fellowes Binding and Laminating will also be launching an exciting new range of models for 2006/7, including new versions of our award-winning Cosmic laminator. We believe the new products will be an important step forward not just for the company, but also for the category.
OPI+: How important is private label as an opportunity for Fellowes?
AD: One of our core strengths at Fellowes is our brand. While we will always look carefully at business opportunities, we will continue to focus our efforts and our marketing resources on developing our product line and offering our customers first class marketing support through initiatives like our Business Machines Dealer Network for example.
OPI+: What (other) new directions are you looking to take the company in?
AD: We are already enjoying exciting growth in markets where we are just beginning to serve our customers directly such as Spain for example. Customers are welcoming the high levels of service and coordination that they can get from a single European supplier. Other Eastern European, Middle East and African markets are becoming substantial opportunities in their own right. I see both of these trends continuing over the next five years.