European wholesaler ADVEO has brought a third dealer network into its French portfolio after confirming the acquisition of certain intangible assets of Buro+.
ADVEO has bought the Buro+ brand name, trademarks, web domain names and certain other intellectual property assets for €380,000 ($490,000).
Buro+ was a brand of the SACFOM cooperative group that went into administration in September 2012 before going into liquidation in February 2013. Established in 1986 and with both a B2B and retail presence, Buro+ once boasted as many as 150 members, but this had already declined to around 100 by the time it entered administration.
It has been an uncertain few months for Buro+ dealers following the placing of SACFOM into administration – a move that hit supply and marketing support. A number have reportedly gone out of business, while some have joined other dealer groups including ADVEO’s own Calipage and Plein Ciel networks and Majuscule’s new dealer brand BuroLike. According to ADVEO, that leaves around 45 potential Buro+ members that it can target as it relaunches the group, although they are under no obligation to remain within the Buro+ fold. ADVEO COO and Managing Director France Jean-Yves Sebaoun (pictured above) told OPI that it wouldn’t be a question of making a hard sell with these remaining Buro+ dealers.
“We are not going to try and recruit dealers at all costs,” he said. “We want to attract strong, healthy partners that understand the benefits of a strong brand name and the support of a pan-European group like ADVEO.”
Plein Ciel experience
Sebaoun likened the acquisition of Buro+ to that of Plein Ciel which fell into financial difficulties and was acquired by Spicers France in 2001. At the time, only about a third of Plein Ciel’s members made the transition to Spicers, but that did not prevent it from developing and becoming a key component of Spicers’ (now ADVEO’s) French business, and Sebaoun is confident that it will be a similar scenario with Buro+. Plein Ciel also had a cooperative structure similar to that of Buro+ and Sebaoun says that the Plein Ciel experience will help as Buro+ is integrated.
“We understand that it is a change of culture for the dealers,” he stated. “When we acquired Plein Ciel we had a members’ committee from the start and that is what we are doing with Buro+ as well. We believe this can help us keep the positive aspects of a cooperative mentality.”
SACFOM’s difficulties were reportedly due – at least in part – to late reseller payments to the cooperative, and Sebaoun admitted that Buro+ dealers would have to accept the stronger financial discipline required by ADVEO, not that he felt that this would be an issue.
“The dealers know where the future lies,” he said. “Cooperatives are often limited by what they can do financially, but we believe we can offer the best of both worlds – a strong local brand within a strong pan-European structure.”
But why not just try to attract the Buro+ members towards the Calipage and Plein Ciel groups rather than run a third individual group in France?
Sebaoun firmly believes in the strength of the Buro+ name in France and certainly didn’t want to see it fall into the hands of a competitor. “We believe that adding this recognised brand to our portfolio will help us consolidate our leadership position in France,” he affirmed. “Buro+ represents a growth opportunity for us and underlines our commitment to defending and promoting the local and regional independent dealer channel.”
He continued: “We want to apply our business model to Buro+ and to help the dealers to grow through a high level of service, a wide range of products and a marketing programme mainly aimed at small and medium-sized business customers.”
One former Buro+ staff member has been appointed to oversee the relaunched Buro+ brand and a new catalogue was introduced at the end of May. Dealers will also have the support of the ADVEO team of 25 sales advisers. A private label range carrying the Buro+ name is expected to be ready by next year, and dealers will also have access to the ADVEO 5-Star brand.
“We are confident that these actions will help develop the potential of the brand throughout France and bring success back to the Buro+ dealers,” concluded Sebaoun.