Office Supply & Paper Wholesalers
Companies in this industry distribute paper products and other office supplies. Major companies include Essendant (formerly United Stationers), SP Richards (a subsidiary of Genuine Parts), and the distribution arms of retailers Office Depot and Staples (all based in the US), as well as Pelikan (Germany), Lyreco and Manutan International (France), and Spicers (UK).
Worldwide, countries with strong economies tend to have the highest number of office supply distributors. Developing countries where new businesses are being created, such as China and India, will attract more office supply distributors as demand for office products increases.
The US office supply and paper wholesale industry includes about 4,300 establishments (single-location companies and units of multi-location companies) with annual revenue of about $39 billion.
Demand is closely tied to the level of business activity. However, workplace digitization is depressing demand for traditional office products. Traditional office products contributed less than 15% of market leader Essendant's net sales in 2017. Also, the convenience and large economies of scale offered by ordering office supplies online from dealers such as fast-growing Amazon Business has resulted in e-commerce becoming the dominant ordering method in many countries, challenging traditional channels. The profitability of individual companies depends on merchandising and an efficient delivery system. Big companies have economies of scale in distribution because they can supply a wide range of products to the same customer. Small companies can compete successfully by distributing specialty products or providing superior customer service. The US industry is concentrated: the 20 largest companies generate nearly two-thirds of revenue.
Besides their online rivals, wholesalers may compete with their suppliers (office supply manufacturers), who may sell products directly to retailers or consumers. Wholesalers may also compete with their customers (office supply retailers), by selling directly to consumers themselves. In addition, mass merchandisers and warehouse clubs compete with wholesalers to sell office supplies to small businesses.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major products include general office paper, office supplies, labels, and greeting cards, which together account for about 80% of industry revenue. Toner
Sales & Marketing
Finance & Regulation
Regional & International Issues
Also includes the following chapters:
Quarterly Industry Update
Trends and Opportunities
Call Preparation Questions
Glossary of Acronyms