PCR chats to commercial director Anthony Haworth to find out what the firm will bring to the market

INTERVIEW: Gem on the rising demand for office products

Following Gem Distribution’s announcement that it will supply office products, we caught up with commercial director Anthony Haworth to discuss the firm’s strategy.

PCR: Why is Gem entering the office products (OP) arena?

Hawerth: Our interest in the OP market was sparked by enquiries and requests for support from vendors and resellers since I moved to Gem.

12 months ago this was not on our agenda. However, in response to the enquiries we conducted an extensive market survey in early 2013, and it quickly became clear that resellers were craving an alternative supplier option.

The findings of our survey were overwhelming, with over 70 per cent of those resellers interviewed interested in a new partner.Resellers were very vocal about their frustrations and what they wanted from a supply partner. Clear and transparent pricing, a non-competing partner, exceptional service and a true partnership approach were all high on reseller wish lists.

From a vendor perspective, the interest and appetite has only increased since our initial discussions earlier this year. There is a real level of concern regarding the strategy, approach and focus of the existing wholesalers.

Our approach to both customers and vendors has helped drive Gem’s success over many years.

How will Gem stand out? What will you bring to the sector?

A straightforward approach to business that absolutely respects the customer and vendor partners that we work with. Distribution should not be complex. Our uncomplicated model is designed to deliver success for both vendor and customer partners – who are free to spend more time working on developing sales.

As a genuine trade-only distributor we pride ourselves in having open and honest relationships with our partners. This will absolutely be the case too for our office products business.

One critical element [of what we will bring to the sector] is simply choice. There is real appetite for a credible alternative.

We will truly support our vendor and customer partners so that we all win in the long term – not one of us winning at the expense of the others in the chain. Additionally, being part of a large Plc group, we can also bring the security of financial stability to our partners.

How will your prices compare to the existing wholesalers?

Pricing and service are at the forefront of our proposition to the market, and we will ensure our overall proposition is competitive.

Utilising our supply chain infrastructure and vast expertise, we believe we can truly add value to our reseller customers delivering them a package of products, price, service and support that will allow them to focus on running their business and growing their sales.

Will you introduce white-label brands?

There is no plan to source a private label range of product, however we recognise the need to provide resellers with a price competitive offering versus other own brands in the market.

Gem will offer all of the established brands already present within the market, but will also include a wider range of product within our portfolio from a number of complementary categories.I suspect [we will have] a figure close to 8,000 OP skus.

Having previously worked at [office products supplier] Spicers, you have experience in the sector. Who else are you bringing on board to Gem’s OP team?

There is actually only one individual that has joined Gem directly from Spicers to support the OP business.Having worked with Colin Learmouth for several years I can think of no better person to manage our vendor relationships and product portfolio. His experience goes beyond Spicers however, having spent time at Copygraphic, Dudley Stationery, Niceday (Office Depot) and within a reseller business.

In addition to Colin we also have individuals with experience at Viking, Office Depot, ECi, VOW and office product manufacturers. 

What are your longer-term ambitions in the office products market?

At Gem Distribution we intend to bring a fresh approach to an established market. 

The emphasis we place on our relationships with both customer and vendors alike will support our approach and alongside our commercial and service proposition will demonstrate our commitment to the reseller community for the long term. 

We have always worked hard to be the distributor of choice and we believe that in offering a credible OP solution we can become the distributor of choice for OP.

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