European Forum Preview

We all know that the business supplies sector is a challenging arena. However, the best operators are doing well and there are still plenty of opportunities if you know where to look and have the confidence to act.


Can your business afford not to attend the 2014 European Forum?

We all know that the business supplies sector is a challenging arena. However, the best operators are doing well and there are still plenty of opportunities if you know where to look and have the confidence to act. The OPI European Forum provides senior level executives with the opportunity to meet with the leading players and learn more about the future of the sector in a unique, high-level setting.

Established in 2009, the first OPI European Forum took place in London, UK. Following its success, the event now takes place every 18 months, offering a real highlight in the calendar. The forums are invitation-only events and provide a unique opportunity for C-level executives to mix and discuss the challenges of the day.

As OPI CEO Steve Hilleard says: “Industry leaders face many similar obstacles to growth, but they have very few opportunities to discuss their challenges in a non-competitive environment. By providing a neutral forum with high-level debate and exclusive networking, OPI believes that these leaders can learn from each other and drive the sector forward.

“The addition of Chatham House rules makes it all off the record and provides a private arena for genuine debate. This means no press reports – even from OPI!”

Going Dutch

The 2014 OPI European Forum takes place from 22-24 September at the Huis ter Duin hotel near Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its central European location – just 25 minutes from Schiphol airport – means it is easy to get to from across the continent, enabling a fantastic crowd of senior leaders to attend.

The sessions will be moderated by Roy Sheppard, a journalist, author and specialist conference moderator. OPI Director Janet Bell notes: “Having a professional moderator ensures the best outcome from an event at this senior level. We want the best information to be generated for all attendees and Roy will help us achieve this goal.”

She continues: “We also have an outstanding range of speakers who will bring important information to the table. That said, we always ensure the programme is not overloaded, so there is time to discuss topics in great detail. And there is plenty of time for networking too, of course. In our industry, personal relations are what really matter and the European Forum event will give delegates the chance to meet new people as well as reconnect with old friends. It certainly is an event not to be missed.”

Lively debates

Speakers include Kimberly Lear, a leading expert on multigeneration workforces and the challenges they bring. Brother’s Phil Jones brings his unique insights into our digital future – tailored especially for the OP sector. President International at Office Depot, Steve Schmidt, will be our Big Interviewee while VirtualStock’s Ed Bradley will be looking at the new challenge of big data.

Other topics include discussions on multichannel strategies, innovation, category growth, mobile marketing, social networking developments and rebranding, to name but a few. The full programme can be found below. For more information please visit or email


“…an outstanding line-up of speakers and the chance to network with industry leaders. It’s an excellent way to assess market trends and our position within the industry”
 James Fellowes, Chairman, Fellowes


Event Programme

Monday 22nd September


19.00      Welcome Reception

20.00      Welcome Dinner


Tuesday 23rd September


09.00      Welcome from OPI


09.15      Opening remarks from the chair
                Roy Sheppard, Journalist, Specialist Conference Moderator & Author


09.25      Trends and forecasts for the digital future: a view from inside the sector

Back by popular demand, Phil Jones – UK MD of technology brand Brother – will share with you his insights into the fast evolving world of digital business and how technology is changing the way our customers and our employees behave.  Phil will focus on trends relating to the individual, businesses, and technology itself, and show how bringing an understanding of those trends together will enable business leaders to define a more meaningful strategy for the future.  His session will include a thought-provoking prediction of what the business and office supplies sector will look like six years on in 2020. 

                Phil Jones, Managing Director, Brother UK


10.15      PANEL: Evolving a coherent multi-channel strategy in the OP and business supplies sector

  • Is service and assortment expansion a pre-requisite for a successful multi-channel strategy?
  • Will we see more dealers being bought by the big boxes in the near future in order to drive multi-channel development?
  • Multichannel vs. omnichannel


Arno Alberty, Managing Director, Medium

Simon Drakeford, CEO, Euroffice

Christian Langvad, Director Product Management & Business Development, Otto Office

Francesco Villa, CEO, Buffetti


11.05      Morning break for refreshments & networking


11.35      Welcome to the multi-generational workforce!

  • Identifying the gaps and synergies in your organisations’ human capital
  • Values vs. ethics vs. workplace priorities
  • How can we attract young people to our industry?  And how can we keep them?
  • Embedding a common language within the organisation
  • Providing training and communication to underpin better generational working relations

Kimberly Lear, Generations Consultant, BridgeWorks


12.35      Innovating the category – the 3M approach

                Paul Kim, VP & General Manager, Stationery & Office Supplies Division, 3M


13.10      Group Lunch


14.30      Roundtable Session 1
Each roundtable will be limited to about 12 people, and moderated by a topic ‘expert’.  The emphasis will be on discussion and the sharing of best practice.  Delegates should prepare to contribute as much as possible – the greater the level of interaction, the greater the value for all. 

1.       How do you build and sustain a culture of innovation whilst remaining ‘lean’ and operationally efficient?
Moderator: Paul Kim, VP & General Manager, Stationery & Office Supplies Division, 3M

2.       Category growth and development: Facilities Management
As the trend in outsourcing extends further into the enterprise, FM-based products form a major part of our customer’s requirements.  Are we in a position to deliver what they want and capitalise on the opportunity?   Topics for discussion will include pricing, range assortment, delivery and distribution, and promises to uncover both the quick wins and the hidden obstacles. 
Moderator: Geoffrey Betts, CEO, Stewart Superior

3.        Online content: Building your organisation’s internal newsroom
We are in an age of content marketing. Whether you use an external agency to create this or have someone in-house, the challenges are the same – how to ensure a steady flow of interesting, engaging and relevant information which you can use on your various online channels – blog, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. This session will look at how you can replicate the newspaper model internally to empower all your employees and transform them into ‘news gatherers’.

Moderator: David Taylor, Head of Social Business, Zoodikers

4.        Mobile marketing: Adapting to change and optimising your investment
In the modern world, everything is connected and we have got an app for every need. In recent years we have seen an exponential growth of products, media and services linked to mobile devices. Increasingly they are the remote controllers of our lives: we read, we share, we tweet, we buy, we sell. ‘Mobile first’ is becoming a mantra for many companies. This session will focus on the rapid changes in mobile e-commerce and will share guidelines on how to optimise your investment in mobile marketing tools

Moderator: Donato Colucci, Head of Category – Office Supplies, Errebian Spa

5.      Exploring the Generation Y/millennials market: shopping and purchasing behaviour
Moderator: Kimberly Lear, Generations Consultant, BridgeWorks

6.      Cross channel fulfilment and the convergence of B2C and B2B
An interactive discussion on the meaning and implications of cross-channel fulfilment within the business supplies sector. What is a channel? Is it a locker, an airport kiosk or even a popup store? How do these new touch points change the customer expectations in both B2C and B2B space? What can we learn from consumer customers to help improve business customer experience and vice versa?

Moderator: Shannon Wu-Lebron, Associate Partner – Retail Centre of Competence, IBM

7.        Challenges and opportunities in the OP sector in Turkey
Moderator: Bilal Ozkose, Country Manager, MAPED


15.30      Afternoon break for refreshments & networking



16.00      Roundtable Session 2


17.00      Big Interview: Steve Schmidt, President International, Office Depot


Steve Hilleard, CEO of OPI Ltd will interview the one of the biggest names in the industry.  How is the Depot/Max merger progressing, what are the challenges encountered so far and in the pipeline?  Fresh from City of Hope, we’ll be exploring Schmidt’s view on the future the sector and where he sees the brightest opportunities.  Delegates can expect an illuminating and thoroughly entertaining conversation, with the opportunity to ask questions directly of Schmidt at the end of the interview. 


17.30      Closing remarks from the chair and end of day one


19.00      Networking reception and dinner



Wednesday 24th September

09.00      Opening remarks from the chair

                Roy Sheppard, Journalist, Specialist Conference Moderator & Author


09.10 Big data: How to make it work for you and your business

As data floods your organization on a daily basis, the question is no longer ‘What is big data?’ it’s "What can we do with the big data we have?"  The answer, of course, is integral to the future of your business. With big data analytics, you can implement data mining, predictive analytics, text mining, forecasting and optimization to explore options and make the best possible business decisions.  This session will examine the real world application of big data analytics within the business supplies sector, and draw on the experiences in other sectors to identify how to get the best results.  To what extent does big data analytics represent a genuine catalyst for growth?  And what can be done about the shortage of ‘geek’ talent?

                Ed Bradley, Founder & CEO, Virtualstock


10.00      Adapting your business to meet the challenges & opportunities of the social age 

We are now in the age of the ‘social’ business. Not only marketing and sales, but HR, PR, recruitment, customer relations, corporate governance, internal communications, IT and even supply chain management are impacted upon by social media. The challenge is to evolve your business to the stage where you can integrate social networks into the fabric of your organisation and, more importantly, meet specific business goals using the various external and internal channels available.

                David Taylor, Head of Social Business, Zoodikers


10.50      Morning break for refreshments and networking


11.20      PANEL: Successful implementation of new reseller programmes

  • With the traditional channels to market so blurred, is it time to question the relevance of direct and indirect channels?
  • Are resellers – of any size or shape – relevant in today’s fast moving, low-cost world?
  • Is the stocking model of wholesaler, dealer or even contract stationer sustainable?
  • What’s the business proposition?  Are we treading on the toes of dealer groups?
  • Is cloud-based technology the key differentiator?  What systems are required to facilitate reseller’s programmes, and what problems might be encountered? 
  • Opportunities to work more directly and proactively with existing manufacturers and OEMs on marketing, promotional and merchandising activities
  • How will reseller programmes impact on the dealer’s relationship with the end-user?
  • Assessing the extent to which these programmes will (in the medium- to long-term) remove cost from the supply chain


                Robert Baldrey, Group CEO, Vasanta

                Simon Mo


, CEO, Office2Office

                Dr Richard Scharmann, CEO, PBS Holding AG


12.10      PANEL: More than just OP: Reinventing and rebranding your company

There are many examples of corporate reinvention over the last century, including IBM, Shell and most recently Apple, demonstrating that by staying one step ahead of your customer it is possible for large companies to achieve wholesale strategic transformation.  But it is a process littered with risks and obstacles.  For business supplies companies, that reinvention process is likely to require corporate rebranding, realignment of -digital capability, new products and services development and a shift of mindset.  Can your company culture withstand this transition, and how can you prepare your workforce?


Shannon Wu-Lebron, Associate Partner – Retail Centre of Competence, IBM

Hans Meier-Kortwig, Partner, GMK Markenberatung

13.00      Group Lunch


14.00      Close of European Forum 2014