When I joined OPI more than three short years ago (doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun), I embarked on a fact-finding mission about the industry by visiting a number of senior executives at leading OP companies.
On my tour of the industry’s great and good I was told consistently that there was not much news around in the industry anymore as most of the big business had been done.
The mergers and acquisitions were primarily done and the mother of all mergers (Staples and Depot) had been torpedoed by the US government.
Of course, there was a lot of truth in that, but recent months have seen a number of large acquisitions suggesting that the industry still has life in it. The cash has been flying around and wallets have been opened up more regularly than the Scottish football team’s defence (apologies for parochial humour to our international readers).
And most of them have been pounced on as potential portents for the future of the OP market. Does the Acco/GBC merger point to a trend of manufacturer consolidation? Does Staples picking up Prime mean another dealer roll-up?
This month, the shopping spree continued with wholesaler Spicers picking up Belgium counterpart Timmermans and – the big one – Lyreco’s strengthening of its ground in Europe with the purchase of Ahrend Office Products. And what a nice stir that deal has caused with Lyreco’s typically bullish chief Eric Bigeard highlighting Office Depot’s integration issues with its most recent big money purchase, Guilbert, as something he intends to avoid as he integrates his own new business.
In turn, Depot has decided that the time is right for it to try and convince Ahrend Office Products customers that they might be better off coming over to them rather than sticking with Ahrend’s new owners. All good fun.
Some disappointing news for OPI. Our very own Nick Eyriey is leaving the company after more than five years and we are very sad to see him go. Nick, currently features and supplements editor, has had spells in just about every role in the editorial team during his time at the company and has always been a reliable, good-humoured and professional performer (taste in music is a bit dodgy though).
His departure represents something of an end of an era for OPI. The whole OPI gang, and I am sure many of our readers, will miss him and wish him all the best for the future. He leaves on 22 November.