Office Depot bolsters print management offering

Pamela Mardle
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Office Depot has developed a business services division to help the company's four exisiting departments focus on business management.

The division will draw attention to Office Depot’s "best kept secret" in that it has offered management services for print and facilities businesses for many years but has been "hiding its light under a bushel" according to Craig Brown, who is heading up print solutions within the business services division.

Brown, previously head of sales at Office Depot, has taken on the role since the new division’s launch in September.

Office Depot's three other business departments – managed print services, facilities supplies and office furniture – have also been assigned dedicated business services leaders to focus on the complementary business management offering alongside supply of consumables.

Brown said: "Office supplies is our core market but I don’t imagine there are many businesses out there working out how they can spend more.

"It is a contracting market and we need to differentiate ourselves from others in that environment to provide much more to our customers than many of our competitors are doing.

"By repositioning the division we are making a statement that there is far more to Office Depot than just pens and pencils."

He claimed that Office Depot was rated among the UK’s top 20 print management companies by turnover yet "someone going for a print management solution is not naturally going to consider Office Depot".

The stationery giant has brought on a number of new staff to aid the restructure, including its operations manager who has had 20 years’ experience in print with Office Depot competitors.

Brown said: "We’ve always had print specific people in our business. We are seeking to pluck the best we can find from the industry to add the human element to what we provide."

As part of the business division’s strategy, Office Depot is in the process of developing a workflow for its customers, to be deployed in April 2013.

As yet, it remains unnamed but will offer an instant pricing engine for end users within a web-to-print hub.

Brown said: "If we look at where our core business sits we have a tremendous penetration into the retail market place and typically we have supported back office requirements within that sector.

"Increasingly we are looking at deploying tools that are much more front-of-house."

The technology aims to give smaller franchisees the power to tailor print by enabling local stores to order point-of-sale displays specific to products currently on sale.

Office Depot confirmed its commitment to public sector print earlier this year when it won a spot on the Government Procurement Service (GPS) framework to offer managed print and e-commerce to NHS bodies, local authorities and the police.

Brown said only a couple of contracts had been awarded across the framework since Office Depot’s appointment in July, but the team is working closely with local authorities to promote its benefits.

He added: "Part of our strategy was to have a much greater footprint in the public sector. Public sector procurement to an extent is underpinned by frameworks so we wanted to be on the broadest possible framework for the public sector as we can be."

"We have got a healthy concentration of public sector customers in our core business and had been historically underpenetrated from a print solutions perspective so it was a natural area for us to move towards.

"Our strategy is not exclusively geared towards the public sector. It’s about taking a broader gamut to our customers."


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