Slovenian promise



Office 1 Superstore’s first Slovenian outlet is now up and running. And according to reports, all in the franchise empire’s latest expansion project is going well so far.


"It’s all going according to plan," Andrej Andoljsek, CEO of Office 1’s master franchisee in the country, Vele, told OPI+. "And to date the reaction to Office 1 has been very good. But there is a lot of work to do attracting customers and expanding from here."


Office 1’s Slovenian arm certainly has its work cut out. Two more stores are due to open this summer, one in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana. By the end of this year it also plans to convert Vele’s existing chain of Tempera stationery stores into Office 1 outlets.


These existing stores, which mostly occupy city locations, currently target consumer market segments such as students. Office 1 hopes to widen their focus to also encompass B2B customers. The new stores, by contrast, occupy a drive-to location and will solely target companies.


Andoljsek, who admits he is "still learning" amid the planned expansion, hopes to be the leading player in Slovenia in specialised office supplies within two or three years. Vele, the non-food division of one of Slovenia’s leading retail chains Tus, is an old and established retail chain in the country at almost 50 years old. Its major competitors Dzs and Mladinska Knjika, which have both been in the market for 45-50 years, are also involved in other areas such as business publishing.


Office 1’s model certainly occupies a market niche in Slovenia by offering 24-hour delivery combined with multi-channel marketing. "It is different from what we’ve had up until now," said Andoljsek. "We use the internet as well as telemarketing, which is new in Slovenia."


The company also has an automatic "in" with Tus’ extensive customer base, he added.


Andoljsek also has plans to sub-franchise Office 1 in Slovenia, OPI+ can reveal, and is currently looking for other small, privately-owned companies that can be converted to Office 1 outlets in smaller towns (avoiding Ljubljana for now). A list of suitable candidates will then be drawn up in 2007 with a view to setting up the stores the year after that.


Andoljsek claims it’s hard to estimate OP trends too far in the future, but admits that he was looking at the happenings in more mature markets for guidance. "Austria is similar to Slovenia in terms of market size and culture, but it is 5-10 years ahead of us," he said. "In Slovenia I expect there to be more consolidation and more players entering over the next few years."