EOPA Review: Laughter and celebration

A review of a great evening at the 2013 European Office Products Awards in Frankfurt.

For a number of reasons, the European Office Products Awards 2013 presentation dinner was even more light-hearted than ever. 

Firstly, the winners were all in the mood to properly celebrate. Things are tough, we all know that, so winning an award is even more of a reason to have an enjoyable evening. 

Secondly, the chance for audience members to get together, network and share news never fails to lighten the mood. 

And finally, the compere of the night, Gyles Brandreth, was excellent, with his witty commentary that kept the audience laughing – 3M may never recover from all the attention!

So all in all, if you weren’t there, you missed out. The EOPA remain as important as ever, being the pinnacle of industry accolades across the continent. Those companies and people who are forwarding the industry and bringing new opportunities to the table deserve to be recognised, and OPI is extremely proud to facilitate this. Read on to find out what exactly made each winner deserving of an award. 

Special recognition award – Graeme Chapman

Very occasionally the decision is made to present a Special Recognition Award to acknowledge the remarkable achievements of an inspirational figure in our industry. This year, following comments from many industry members, it felt appropriate to present such an award.

Back in November, members of the UK industry took part in the Climb of Life. This is an annual charity event where teams tackle some of England’s highest mountains in freezing conditions to raise funds for the Institute of Cancer Research. This climb has been organised for the last 25 years by Graeme Chapman, who himself was treated for cancer last summer.  

During his career, Chapman held senior management positions within ACCO, Kingfield Heath and most recently Office Friendly. 

He was awarded the MBE by the Queen in the Millennium Honours list for his charity fundraising, and those efforts saw him pass the impressive sum of £1 million raised for charity at last November’s climb. This incredible achievement certainly deserves to be acknowledged, and Graeme was presented with a Special Recognition Award for Services to Charity immediately following the 2012 Climb of Life.

Online initiative – Esselte Leitz: Restyle Your Desk

The internet and technology were dominating conversations at this year’s Paperworld, but not everyone has fully grasped how to maximise its many benefits and opportunities to drive brand awareness and growth. However, Esselte Leitz has done exactly that with its ‘Restyle Your Desk’ initiative. 

The Europe-wide concept is based on iFrame technology that enabled Esselte to set a new standard in online materials and support for its reseller customers and their webshops. The ease and speed of integration of the tool for resellers has won Esselte many fans.

The judges also acknowledged the 3M Post-It campaign as Highly Commended. Its initiative was far reaching and generated even more awareness of a product that everybody is already familiar with. 

Marketing initiative – Brother UK: Route 66: labels are powerful – what does yours say?

Entrants in this category, which is open to both resellers and manufacturers, had to clearly demonstrate measurable success with a particular marketing initiative. Following its high-profile 2011 marketing campaign called ‘Route 66: labels are powerful – what does yours say?’, Brother reports that sales of its labelling machines are up year-on-year by 54% in units and 63% by revenue – a pretty successful campaign! 

The judges really liked how a low involvement category such as labels could be brought to life with what was a very thorough integrated campaign. 

The judges again gave a Highly Commended comment for 3M’s Scotch brand Christmas initiative.

Facilities management product – Kimberly-Clark: Healthy Workplace Project Desk & Meeting Room Caddies

This is certainly an area of interest for many in the office products industry, as more companies across the globe report growth in the facilities management category than in any other product line. Kimberly-Clark’s Healthy Workplace project with Desk and Meeting Room Caddies is all about providing the right products in practical locations to help office employees improve their office hygiene behaviour. It’s a total concept that explains to customers why there is a need to protect them from risk, and the judges admired its creative approach to ensuring products are always visible on desks and encouraging repeat purchases of consumables. 

Technology product – ACCO Brands: Rexel Auto+ range of Automatic Shredders

ACCO’s win in this category for its Rexel Auto+ range of Automatic Shredders is notable particularly as it is up against new technologies that are revolutionising our industry, such as tablets and smartphones. 

However, this product really stood out from a sales perspective, as it has been extremely profitable and has helped ACCO make some impressive market share gains since its launch a few years ago. The concept behind the technology – stack with paper, shut, then get on with something else more productive – resonates with the consumer, and of course our judges.

Core office product – Esselte Leitz: WOW

While core office products may be lacking the growth of some other categories, it’s still the roots of the industry and there are many shining examples of sales excellence. 

Esselte Leitz’ WOW range is, according to the judges, an excellent range that has brought innovation to the industry – which is particularly notable given how hard innovation can be in this category. The range is a high seller, as the funky colours alone have encouraged end-users to swap the products they’ve had for years. The ability to coordinate products in offices has been very well received, and the marketing support with the product has been outstanding. 

Environmental product – Rubbermaid Commercial Products: HYGEN Clean Water System

As one of the judges said: “I have never been so excited about a mop in my life!” This is a common reaction to the HYGEN Clean Water System from Rubbermaid Commercial Products, which is a unique and innovative product that has demonstrable benefits for the environment in millions of offices worldwide. People around the globe are waking up to the impact that chemicals have on the environment, and this product directly reduces their need while reducing water usage – another topic growing in importance. 

A Highly Commended also went to Tersano for its excellent technology. The judges don’t believe this product is quite ready for office products resellers to market, but it has huge potential and is one to watch as the technology develops. 

Dealer group of the year – RKV

There are many factors involved in performing as an excellent dealer group, such as offering the right services to the right dealers, providing competitive cost of goods and dynamic marketing programmes. 

The judges believe that RKV in Sweden is doing a great job at influencing the market, and is highly regarded in the Nordic Office Alliance through its work to support dealers. The words “creative” and “innovative” were used to describe its approach, and we look forward to seeing what the group achieves next as it maintains a dominant position in the Swedish market.

Professional of the year – Ronny Van Rossem

This important award seeks to recognise a rising star in our industry who has the drive and potential to make a real difference to the office products community. Jonathan Smith, VP Sales Europe, Avery Dennison Office and Consumer Products, presented the award to Ronny Van Rossem, VP Merchandising at Staples Europe, who has given a huge amount to the industry – not least driving to the judges’ meeting in Hamburg to arrive at 4am! 

His colleagues on the judging panel admire how he gives so much to the industry, on top of having an extremely busy job, particularly during the current tough times, and being a real Staples ambassador. He is always extremely professional, ethically always correct, and his passion for the industry and dedication to his position are applauded. 

Design excellence – 3M’s Post-it: Z-Notes dispenser range – The Fashionably Fun Line

This award is new for the EOPA 2013 and reflects the changing demands of end-users as younger generations are seeking more design-led products. Though 3M’s Post-it Z-Notes dispenser range – The Fashionably Fun Line is not new to the market, sales have recently surged and the judges believe that its time has come. 

End-users increasingly want to purchase products that help them to create a personal space while at the same time meet a product need. These quirky products are attractive to a certain customer base and send a message that office products can be interesting to look at as well as functional.

New product innovation – Brother: MFC-J4510DW A4 & A3 Colour Inkjet Multifunction Printer

The full name of this winning product is the MFC-J4510DW A4 & A3 Colour Inkjet Multifunction Printer and the judges loved it, if not the clunky name. The Brother device is a printer that has been redesigned from top to bottom to solve a problem that offices have had for years – the space taken up by large format printing. This unique product introduces A3 printing but in a small, compact and attractive desktop device, which the judges believe will be a real hit with SMBs and home office workers.

Wholesaler/distributor of the year – VOW

The judges were impressed with VOW’s category management approach to product selection and marketing, its state-of-the-art logistics facilities, and its VOW+ programme which aims to provide UK dealers with a broad range of value-added services and tools, too many to mention here. Considering that the company was going through some serious turbulance just a few years ago, the judges felt the VOW team deserved to be recognised for such a commendable fightback.

A Highly Commended also went to Beta because although it is relatively new to this industry, it has already enjoyed tremendous growth and is, in the view of the judges, a player to watch in the future.

Reseller of the year – Bureau Vallé

This award seeks to recognise resellers with a strong presence in their respective markets – size isn’t necessarily everything in this award category, but impact is! 

Bureau Vallée is a number one reseller when it comes to growth. France is one of the few places in the world where office retail stores are growing, and Bureau Vallée is driving that statistic. 

The judges believe the franchise chain is an excellent example of how local independent businesses can compete successfully with well-funded global players.

Corporate social responsibility – Lyreco

The judges’ main challenge when assessing entries for the CSR category is that, nowadays, all good companies have a CSR policy in place. However, Lyreco is, in the judges’ words, a convincing benchmark for the industry and a company that is continually refining its policies and activities. Its three guiding principles – economic success, environmental protection, and social responsibility – are widely driven through the organisation and although Lyreco won this award last year as well, the judges don’t believe another industry player can yet match the company’s commitment in this area.

A Highly Commended went to the not-for-profit enterprise Wildhearts in Action Office Supplies, an excellent example of what an ethical company can be in the future. 

Vendor of the year – Stora Enso

Although this award is open to vendors of all sizes, the judges felt that this year it was the larger manufacturers that led the way. 

Stora Enso is setting examples in many ways, such as through its environmental focus on its processes and infrastructure. It has invested time and effort in transitioning itself into a business with a performance-driven internal culture, world-class supply chain, effective sales team and clever solutions. And final words of praise from the judges: this vendor builds brands that stand out, particularly in terms of sustainability.  

Industry achievement – Marcel Ringeard

The highlight of the evening, this award recognises the achievements of a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of our industry in Europe. Marcel Ringeard has been a pivotal member of Pilot for years. He is passionate about the office products industry, and has been extremely active not only through his participation in Pilot’s board in Japan but in the EOPA, UFIPA and other bodies. He has demonstrated great leadership, leading the company to growth and strong market share, and he’s extremely popular among his team. He has truly dedicated his life to the office products industry, which is marked by this well-deserved award.