OPI Partnership 2015: Take your partners

The second OPI Partnership more than lived up to expectations and is fast becoming a must-attend industry event

With the inaugural event and the apprehension that came with it out of the way, the second OPI Partnership took place at the beginning of March. Some 90 senior level executives from the reseller and manufacturing communities came together for two days of top-to-top strategic discussions in a confidential environment.

The venue was once again the Hotel Okura in Amsterdam, a five-star hotel only a short distance away from Schiphol Airport that provided the perfect business – not to forget exceptional culinary – environment to allow for efficient and hassle-free talks. An abundance of networking opportunities, including a fabulous meal on the eve of OPI Partnership and, of course, the 14th European Office Products Awards held at the end of the first day (see EOPA review), over the course of the two days completed the picture.

But while first-time events come with a very different sense of trepidation, follow-ups are almost as nervously awaited: will they live up to expectations and the event become more than a one-hit wonder; will delegates return because they’ve seen tangible benefits from the previous year and hope for more of the same; will newcomers join in, making the event even bigger and better? 

The answer to all these questions was a resounding ‘yes’, judging by feedback from both sides of the table (see Testimonials box, left).

Diverse audience

If further proof was needed where our industry is headed, the mix of vendors and resellers that came together for these private one-hour meetings was diverse in terms of products discussed and broad in its truly pan-European coverage. 

The likes of Staples, Office Depot and Lyreco rubbed shoulders with Amazon, ADVEO, EVO Group and PBS Holding, while on the vendor side non-OP players like Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and Sofidel were sought-after discussion partners alongside familiar OP names such as BIC, edding, 3M and Fellowes. 

As OPI’s CEO Steve Hilleard commented: “Once again, the reaction from Partnership delegates was hugely enthusiastic, which is perhaps not surprising given the size and diversity of the resellers and vendors in attendance and the seniority of most attendees. We have enjoyed creating this unique and valuable platform for the industry and look forward to next year when extra attention will be given to ensuring an even higher-quality group.” 

What the vendors said…
“We heard a lot of positive comments about the first OPI Partnership event in 2014 and are very happy we joined this time! A powerful two days with many well-structured meetings and great networking opportunities amongst key people from our industry. Our participation paid off!”
Dirk Naeve, VP International Sales, edding
“With this being our first Partnership event, we were unsure what to expect. We came away very impressed with the format and the quality of the meetings. The one-hour meetings allowed for some very good, high-level discussions while the dinner events were a phenomenal opportunity to meet other attendees as well as have some broader strategic discussions on the overall market.”
Gary Blanchette, President, Amax
“Partnership was again organised in an excellent way and for the second year proved to offer a great opportunity to interact and engage with the key leaders of the industry in a very efficient way.”
Michel van Beek, President, Fellowes EMEA
What the resellers said…
“It’s my second time at the event and I can confirm that it’s a special opportunity to have a look at the future of the OP industry and at the main vendors’ visions and plans. These meetings go further than just plain negotiations and represent concrete opportunities for new business.”
Francesco Villa, CEO, Gruppo Buffetti
“For me, this is the most important industry event of the year. It gives me the opportunity to see where we are in our vendor relations, what we have executed or not, and where vendors see growth or innovation opportunities in the future. It’s also a good opportunity to socialise and compare notes with the top resellers, wholesalers, etc, in our industry.”
Thomas Glatzel, SVP Direct Business Europe (Viking) & MD Region DACH-BeNeLux, Office Depot