Comment November 2017

A sign of things to come.

Collaboration – and the need for it – has surely been the theme of 2017. Will consolidation be the hot topic of next year? It’s only November, so it might be a little premature to consult the 2018 crystal ball, but the signs are certainly pointing that way. 

Our news pages lead with perhaps the biggest acquisition story of this month – Office Depot buying IT and tech services firm CompuCom and US dealer Complete Office Solutions. Are either of these purchases a surprise? Well, just going back to Depot’s recent Q2 earnings call, CEO Gerry Smith did refer to aggressive growth plans – organic and inorganic – and there’s also the much talked about push into the mid-market which can now finally become more of a reality through Complete. Does it all tally with an expected focus on retail? Not really or at least not yet. 

Elsewhere, the sale of Switzerland’s Office World and iba businesses to Austrian MTH Retail Group caused a stir in Europe. In Australia, meanwhile, the wait is nearly over – 16 November is the date – for a decision by consumer watchdog ACCC on the acquisition of OfficeMax by Complete Office Supplies and indeed the final ruling on the proposed merger of OfficeMax and Winc (formerly Staples Australia and New Zealand). 

Scale and the need to diversify is becoming ever more important, a fact that is also evident from the string of acquisitions we’ve seen in the manufacturing sector (Amax, Smead, Katun, 3M…)

There’s definitely a sense that our industry could be looking quite different next year, not least in the wholesale sector where some of the main operators are facing serious questions and challenges. 

Some things are a little more certain for next year. That GDPR is coming, for example, and that companies need to be prepared for it (see page 37). Or that there are some remarkable opportunities in the PPE and safety sector and despite many challenges, also still in the imaging supplies and MPS category.

Next month, we’ll be looking at the vast topic of health and well-being, so stay tuned for that and have a good November.   

Have a good month.