Staples exits Australasia

Staples has announced that it plans to sell its Australian and New Zealand business to Platinum Equity for an undisclosed amount.

“As we execute our plan for long-term growth we want to focus primarily on our Staples’ North American business, and this will allow us to better do that,” says Shira Goodman, Staples chief executive, in a statement.
Shares of Staples rose 0.8% to $8.64 after hours.

By Wallace Witkowski for www.marketwatch.com

Henkel has entered into exclusive negotiations with GCP Applied Technologies to acquire their global Darex Packaging Technologies business for $1,05-billion.

“The intended transaction is in line with our strategy to strengthen our portfolio through targeted acquisitions and would reinforce the position of our Adhesive Technologies business as a global market and technology leader”
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Henkel has submitted a binding offer for the Darex Packaging Technologies business. Darex is based in Cambridge, MA, USA and supplies high-performance sealants and coatings for the metal packaging industry around the world. It serves various global customers producing beverage, food or aerosol cans, ensuring with its solutions the highest quality standards for many best-known brands. In fiscal 2016, Darex Packaging Technologies generated sales of around $300-million. Darex has about 700 employees and 20 sites in 19 countries.

“The intended transaction is in line with our strategy to strengthen our portfolio through targeted acquisitions and would reinforce the position of our Adhesive Technologies business as a global market and technology leader,” said Henkel CEO Hans Van Bylen.

“We are excited about the opportunity to add the high-performance Darex business to our existing Adhesives Technologies portfolio. We are glad that we are now entering into exclusive negotiations about a possible acquisition. Darex’s experience in developing innovative, high-performance sealants and coatings will underpin our commitment to provide our global customers with best-in-class solutions. This business is the perfect fit for our existing portfolio serving the metal packing industry and would therefore strengthen our position in this highly attractive and non-cyclical business. We would be happy to welcome to Henkel such a successful and experienced strong team with long-standing business expertise,” says Jan-Dirk Auris, executive VP Adhesive Technologies at Henkel.

In connection with this binding offer, GCP will begin a consultation process with the relevant Works Councils and Labor Unions. Upon completion of that process, it is intended to enter into a definitive purchase and sale agreement in respect of the proposed sale. The proposed transaction will also be subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

In fiscal 2016, Henkel’s Adhesive Technologies business unit generated sales of around $9,4-billion, making Henkel the leading solution provider for adhesives, sealants and functional coatings.

French writing instruments vendor, BIC, has reported strong Q4 growth. According to the company, stationery sales increased by 7.8% to €165.6-million.

Sales were high in emerging markets such as South Africa and Brazil, owing to the back-to-school season, while in India sales also improved. The company reported mid-single digit growth in Europe and high-single digit growth in North America.

Overall, FY2016 sales for the Stationery division increased by 5.2% in constant currency to €736.6 million. Stationery volumes increased 1.5% to 6.9 billion units in 2016.
Looking ahead into 2017, the firm outlined priorities to deliver organic sales growth and gain market shares in the division through new product launches, increased R&D investment and new emerging channels such as e-commerce in developed countries.
Meanwhile in its Graphic arm, Q4 sales fell 13.6% to €94.6 million. Full-year sales also dropped, registering a 1.9% fall to €311.5 million.
BIC’s overall full-year sales rose 4.9% to €2.03 billion, while pre-tax profit dropped 10.7% to €408.1 million.
Earlier this month, BIC revealed that a strategic review of its promotional products unit would hit group FY2016 profits. The company has now revealed a €48.4 million hit from these operations.
Bruno Bich, chairman and CEO, says: “Our solid 2016 results are further testimony to the quality and strength of our business model. In a fast-moving and challenging market environment, such as in Shavers in the US, net sales growth was robust and consistent across all consumer categories. Despite the planned increase in operational investment, normalised income from operations remained healthy.
“In 2017, the volatility of currencies and the unpredictable global environment will require increased levels of agility from our teams to ensure continued success. We plan to deliver mid-single digit organic growth in Net Sales. We will continue to launch new products and strengthen our distribution, with a focus on e-commerce in developed markets.
“To enhance long-term growth, we plan another year of selected investments in R&D, CAPEX and Brand Support. The total impact of these investments on Normalized Income From Operations margin will be approximately -100 basis points compared to 2016, excluding major currency fluctuations.”

Source: www.finance.yahoo.com

There are many factors that contribute to the success – or otherwise – of a shopping centre, and getting the right tenant mix is right up there at the top of the list. The general manager of a major mall weighs in on what “tenant mix” really means.

“First impressions count,” says Olive Ndebele, general manager of Pretoria’s Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, the largest mall of its kind in Africa following its two-year R2-billion redevelopment. “We want our customers to be blown away by what we’re offering. We want them to find not only everything they need under one roof but also to be absolutely thrilled by the many, many additional ‘nice-to-have’ and unique offerings they’ll find at Menlyn Park Shopping Centre.”

To achieve this objective, says Ndebele, you have to know the mall catchment area and exactly who your mall will be servicing, and that’s generally the community in which it is located – although the very popular Menlyn Park Shopping Centre is also a magnet to residents of the outlying suburbs of Pretoria, the large contingent of the foreign businesspeople and diplomats who live in South Africa’s executive capital city, and keen shoppers from the African diaspora including Sadec and Sub Saharan Africa.

“You have to ensure there’s as close a match between the needs of your target markets, their buying capacity, and the kinds of tenants present in your mall,” says Ndebele. For this reason, Menlyn Park Shopping Centre management conducted extensive market research in order to have insights the demographics, needs, size and disposable income of their target markets, as well as their aspirations and preferences.

But getting the tenant mix right isn’t important just to bring feet into the mall. It’s vital for the tenants themselves too. “Ideally, you want complementary stores feeding off each other, meeting shoppers’ needs and enhancing revenues,” Ndebele says.

Niche retailers, which are the many little stores that provide the variety in a shopping centre, don’t usually have large marketing or advertising budget, so they rely on the larger retailers in the mall to bring in the customers. “Anchor tenants, which are generally grocery offerings in South Africa, bring the critical mass into the mall,” Ndebele explains. “If, as a shopping-centre manager, you get the right anchor tenants, the smaller retailers will feel reassured that a certain type of consumer will definitely be visiting the mall, and that the footcount will therefore be assured to at least a certain degree, and that will probably encourage them to set up shop in your mall.”

These retailers include what Ndebele calls the “non-retail services”, such as (in the case of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre) a Fives Futbol, Fun company, a speciality store, a dry-cleaner, a barber, an internet-browsing store, a travel agent and an e-toll outlet. “These offerings ensure a more holistic approach to our tenant mix, and they do also contribute invidually to the mall’s footcount,” she points out.

And there are a couple of further important criteria when it comes to tenant mix: where your tenants are located, and how much space their shops take up are also vital. “Your customers don’t want to have to walk from one end of a shopping centre to another to tick off specific items on their shopping list,” Ndebele says, “which is why, for instance, at Menlyn Park Shopping Centre we’ve grouped all the large anchor grocery stores together in Grocery Avenue. This ensures a very accessible, convenient experience for consumers who may want to visit two or three large retail grocery outlets to fill their exact needs.”

The same applies, says Ndebele, to the mall’s Fashion Wing, where cutting-edge fashion brands are grouped together over three levels; and the new spacious food and entertainment area, with popular eateries clustered together, offering a very wide choice within a pleasant space where customers can linger.

And on that subject, says Ndebele, “We must bear in mind that malls are no longer primarily about simply shopping. When consumers visit malls, they’re looking beyond traditional shopping – they also want relaxing and entertaining experiences. So, ideally, you want to maintain a good balance between all the categories in a shopping centre – between food and beverages, fashion and beauty, electronics, groceries, and entertainment, plus a healthy number of smaller ‘non-retail’ offerings. This side of getting the mix right is as much an art as it is a science.”

The bottom line, says Ndebele, is finding the sweet spot for your customers between convenience and experience. “And mall management must never forget that all tenants affect footcount – both the big destination stores that anchor a mall, and the smaller ‘impulse-buy’ and ‘non-retail’ stores that make up the mix.”

The Multi Touch Interactive Whiteboard can transform business meetings and presentations – it’s designed to be versatile and dynamic to boost productive workflows.

A tech evolution
There’s no doubt traditional whiteboards limit collaboration. Existing information has to be removed to alter content or create new content. Interactive digital whiteboards allow businesses to save, add and disseminate information more efficiently.

The Multi Touch Interactive Whiteboard gives users the power to directly interact with information. Employees, clients, teachers and students can join conversations remotely, offer input, then resume the activity at hand, without leaving the desk or office.

This new technology not only improves communication but also facilitates more effective and productive meetings. Information is easily analysed, shared and modified. It also increases data security as information is stored – unlike traditional whiteboards where information is lost when the board is wiped.

The presentation of the future
Tools like digital whiteboards can reduce meeting and teaching time and allow for better engagement in the classroom and boardroom. The whiteboard allows simultaneous, real-time interaction amongst individuals in different locations – it’s immediate and direct.

Instead of sitting through a one-way presentation scribbled on a whiteboard or clicking through a presentation, a digital whiteboard enables participants to engage with what’s being discussed – with a greater chance of retaining information and reaching mutual understanding.

Files can be easily shared, accessed, edited, and saved for future use. Changes can be made in real-time to the topic at hand as feedback is received. Digital whiteboards facilitate the use of rich media, like videos, visuals and presentations. The live webinar allows meetings to happen via the web, also saving time and travelling costs.

Hands-on collaboration
One of the key benefits of the Multi Touch Interactive Whiteboard is its compatibility with any windows PC, laptop or tablet or MacBook (except the iPad) via plug and play. This means seamless integration, no matter the device – a common concern for educators and businesses looking to adopt new hardware and software.

It also gives full touch access to programs or apps installed on any of these devices. It even features recognition functionality that converts handwriting to text. Users can navigate documents using gestures and share documents, graphs and multi-media with anyone, at any time.

Organisations and learning institutions are continuously producing and circulating information to drive business forward in a competitive environment. Technology like the Multi Touch Interactive Whiteboard will transform how presentations are conducted – increasing workplace and classroom productivity.

I’ve always had good luck with Canon printers. For several years, I’ve used the MX870 that cost me somewhere around $200 (R3 000) if memory serves me right.

It’s one of the all-in-one models that I’ve frequently used for scanning and sometimes for faxing. And it’s performed without a hiccup. A very solid, well-made machine.

Representatives of the company recently invited me to test out the new PIXMA G4200 Wireless all-in-one MegaTank model. It uses liquid dye-based ink that results in a whopping 6,000 black and white pages and 7 000 color pages, per fill. That’s generally about a year’s worth of ink, for most people. Realistically even more.

I pulled it from the box and was pleasantly surprised at its sleekness. That is, it’s pretty lightweight and also has a relatively small footprint compared to other like-equipped printers.

Setting it up was fairly breezy. There’s not much to it. You install the print heads and fill in the four tanks with liquid ink. That’s it. In fact, Canon pretty much makes the process spill-proof: you don’t squeeze each ink bottle until its nose is buried into the reservoir. Start to finish took maybe four minutes. And I love that the ink tanks have windows on the front of the machine, so you can physically see how much ink is left in each of them.

Next, I was able to quickly turn on the unit and connect it to my mobile phone, Chromebook and a Windows laptop. Canon vows the printer’s also Mac-compatible. I experienced a slight challenge getting it to connect to my home WiFi at one point, receiving a vague “Please wait a while” message on the printer’s small screen. So while waiting “a while” as directed, I went back and read through the manual that also offered bizarre instructions, such as (verbatim) “Do not connect any cable except the power cord yet.” and “Setting Up the FAX in the Basic Manual which is installed into your computer.” Huh? Everything came together fine, within minutes. But I felt a little vulnerable in the interim.

The printer itself works smoothly, in fact. It’s noticeably quieter than any other printer I’ve tested. Documents emerge with crisp text and graphics. Images on photo paper look awesome. And scans are also wonderfully clear and vibrant. There are some special function modes, such as 2-on-1 and 4-on-1 copy mode that let you scan two or four pages, depending on how you set it up, and then print them onto one sheet. That can be very helpful in reducing paper and ink costs. For Windows — and I’m assuming Macs — the included software suite is impressive, too, letting you not only do the typical customized scans and prints, but also letting you print video frames, collages, photo layouts, disc labels, calendars, greeting cards, etc. All of these performance features and extras are ultimately why consumers purchase a printer. And with the huge supply of ink that’s included, you shouldn’t have to even lift the hood for quite a while.

By Scott Kramer for www.forbes.com

ACCO Brands Corporation, one of the world’s largest designers, marketers and manufacturers of branded business, academic and consumer products, has announced that it has received clearance from the relevant competition authorities related to the pending acquisition of Esselte Group Holdings AB.

The completion of the transaction remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of certain conditions. The company expects to complete the transaction by early February.

The company also announced that it will release fourth quarter 2016 financial results on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 before the market opens. At 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time the Company will host a conference call to discuss the results.

The call will be broadcast live via webcast. The webcast can be accessed through the Investor Relations section of www.accobrands.com. The webcast will be in listen-only mode and will be available for replay for one month following the event.

The Moleskine phenomenon

From spelling out New Year’s resolutions to jotting down designer brainwaves, sometimes only a pen and paper will do, even in the digital era.

And those are the kind of niches that have enabled Italian notebook manufacturer Moleskine to leverage its historically evocative brand into the kind of rapid growth not usually associated with the staid world of stationery.

The Italian group’s sales have more than tripled in the last seven years. Turnover in 2015 was 128 million euros ($134 million); 200 million is the target for 2018 with Asia in the front line of the company’s plans to expand its retail network from 80 outlets to 120 over the same period.

According to business expert Alessandro Brun, the growth has been driven by Moleskine’s ability to successfully pitch an “extremely ordinary” item as being an object of desire imbued with history and an essential lifestyle tool for the contemporary creative.

“It is fair to talk about a Moleskine phenomenon,” said Brun, professor of company management at Milan Polytechnic.

From its launch as a brand in 1997, under then-owner Milanese publisher Modo & Modo, Moleskine has hammered away at the idea that it has revived the classic notebooks favoured by the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh and Hemingway.

Those now sold under the Moleskine brand are indeed modelled on those once manufactured by a French provincial bookbinder for Paris stationers. But they are made in China, rather than the Loire valley.

Knowledge workers

With their rounded edges and distinctive elastic binder, the original notebooks were known as “carnets moleskines” in French, because their smooth black covers were thought to resemble moleskin.

They were a classic of simple design but production stopped in 1986 when their original manufacturer, based in the town of Tours, closed.

Famously, travel writer Bruce Chatwin was so distraught he went round buying up as many as he could find, then wrote a lament to the notebooks in his book “The Songlines” that came out the following year.

Inspired by that account, Modo & Modo registered Moleskine as a trademark almost a decade later and the notebooks are still instantly recognizable, even if the new owners have substantially expanded the range of sizes, formats and paper quality on offer.

So who buys them? According to company boss Arrigo Berni the primary market is among so-called “knowledge workers” – designers, architects, engineers and lawyers.

“Our customers are marked out not so much by their level of income as by their level of education,” Berni said.

The advent of the digital era has not reduced the importance of physical experiences, he argues. If anything, the opposite is true, particularly for the 30-something generation.

“Consumers are sometimes a little more astute and intelligent than financial analysts give them credit for,” Berni adds.

As with the revival of vinyl in music, an aesthetically-pleasing, robust notebook provides an add-on to what the iPhone or a laptop can do, he argues, citing a survey of 4,000 designers which found 65 percent of them prefer a pen/notebook combination for recording ideas.

Moleskine Cafes

So how does he explain Moleskine growing sales at 20 percent a year in a global stationery market expanding at 3-4 percent?

“Beyond having a quality product, it’s about selling a brand and a sense of belonging (to a community), which is exactly what Apple does,” he said.

That vision has been behind Moleskine’s recent diversification with the brand now found on pens, accessories such as backpacks and, less obviously, in cafes.

The first Moleskine Cafe opened at Geneva airport in 2015, the second in July in central Milan.

Customers can enjoy a cup of coffee and light fare surrounded by exhibits such as sketches done in Moleskine notebooks. And of course stock up on Moleskine products.

“The cafes are about creating a link between customers and the brand,” said Brun.

Currently listed on the Milan stock exchange, Moleskine is now 95 percent owned by D’Ieteren, a Belgian group best known for its car dealerships.

The new owners are planning to take the company private but Berni is not expecting any other changes. “They have a long term vision,” he said.

By Celine Cornu for www.thelocal.it

Value for money is always going to be a key motivator when it comes to shopper behaviour. But to keep customers loyal over time, their overall emotional connection with your shopping centre is vital, says one veteran shopping-centre manager.

“The most significant positive impact of a great customer experience is long-term loyalty,” says Olive Ndebele, general manager of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre in Pretoria. And one of the many challenges facing shopping centres today is how to consistently give their customers this great experience.

The 37-year-old four-level Menlyn Park mall has just undergone a two-year, R2-billion, three-phase expansion and refurbishment project that will position it as the largest shopping centre in Africa. Usually during giant projects of this kind, shoppers tend to swap loyalties to other malls to avoid the chaos and inconvenience of construction but footcount numbers to the centre actually increased during some phases of the building at Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, showcasing unusual resilience. Included in the reasons Ndebele cites for this atypical customer behaviour is the fact that the centre went to great lengths to ensure their customers were inconvenienced as little as possible, and to keep them engaged throughout the process. “We ensured that our customers continued to have great customer experiences in our mall, regardless of what was happening behind the scenes,” she says.

This philosophy is being carried over into the new Menlyn Park mall, which is much more than “just” a shopping centre: aside from a greatly expanded fashion wing hosting a range of international and local fashion brand stores, there’s the reconfigured two-level food and entertainment hub that includes 3D Nu Metro cinemas and the massive Fun Company centre, and a number of restaurants situated around a beautiful outdoor piazza. And, acknowledging the ever-growing number and diversity of its client base, a Prayer Centre will cater to Pretoria’s growing Muslim community.

The key to delivering a great customer experience, says Ndebele, is finding out what your customers need and want, and giving it to them. In the case of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, which has long been a popular mall in the country’s executive capital with its 100+ foreign embassies and consulates, customers include “residents of all the surrounding and outlying suburbs of Pretoria, a large contingent of foreign business people, diplomats and holidaymakers, and keen shoppers from other African countries, such as Nigeria and Mozambique, where big-name items are hard to find”, according to Ndebele. And, she adds, “We’ve put together a comprehensive tenant mix that caters to all our shoppers.”

But having great tenants doesn’t necessarily automatically translate into a great customer experience. “We live in a dynamic age of technology and innovation, and one in which caring for our customers has never been more important,” says Ndebele. “An unhappy customer can instantly share a negative experience with thousands of people through social media – but so can a customer who’s had great service. Customers are always looking for ways to feel valued, and ways to make their lives easier.”

Delivering this, says Ndebele, comes down to the personal touch – arguably, the one thing that online shopping can’t compete with in the bricks-and-mortar version. As an example Ndebele cites Menlyn Park Shopping Centre’s lightbulb concept of a “concierge service” during the last phase of the refurbishment, when friendly, efficient and well-trained staff members were stationed at busy nodes in the mall to answer queries and give directions, spoil shoppers with refreshments, and generally make sure that everybody felt genuinely cared for.

While many of today’s shoppers regard a visit to a mall like Menlyn Park Shopping Centre as an outing in its own right – during which they not only treat themselves to luxury purchases, and perhaps see a movie, play games or have a meal with family or friends – there are still those who want to simply “get in and get out”. “Career and business people, especially, don’t regard grocery shopping as a social event,” Ndebele points out. “They’re just trying to get a lot done in often very limited time.” For these shoppers, convenience and accessibility are paramount, and that’s the essence of the thinking behind the mall’s “Grocery Avenue”, with a Checkers Hyper, a Food Lovers Market and a Pick n Pay alongside each other in one section, with easy access to parking. The Pick n Pay offers even more for the busy shopper: banking services, drawing social grants, booking flights and car hire.

And proving that Menlyn Park Shopping Centre truly has gone the extra mile to cater for everyone, there are options, too, for those who like to shop at leisure while they stock their kitchen cupboards, says Ndebele: “There’s an in-store coffee shop and a take-away burger bar in the Checkers Hyper, and a seated eating area in the Food Lovers Market.”

Lost something? Track it!

Mobile phones have become the one accessory we cannot live without – from answering e-mails, to contacting friends, or catching up on the news, we literally use them all day long.

That sense of dread that kicks in when you get to work and realise you left your phone at home often leaves people feeling “lost” – a sign that we cannot imagine live without our phones! But what happens when you lose your phone in a bar, restaurant, or in a taxi or public place?

The chances of recovering a lost phone are slim. It is believed that only around 2% of cell phones that get left in public transport vehicles (busses, trains, etc.) are reunited with their owners. Not only is it very costly to replace a cell phone, but the hassle of losing valuable contacts, photos and information if your phone is not backed up, is an even more daunting thought. So what can be done to avoid this?

Keys, mobile phones, cameras, i-pads, laptops, passports and wallets can all be a nightmare when mislaid. Yet, when they arrive at a lost-property office or police station, only approximately 25% are returned to the owner because there is no simple way to track them down. After less than a month, the 75% of items that are unclaimed are usually auctioned.

Up to 20 million bags are mislaid in airports every year, and in London alone, 50 000 mobile phones get left behind in taxis annually. South Africa is no different, with thousands of personal belongings making its way into Lost & Found containers nationwide every year. Cell phones are one of the most commonly misplaced items, and are seldom reunited with their owners. HomingPIN offers an innovative solution to this global problem with the HomingPIN tag.

HomingPIN offers baggage loops with tags, key rings and stickers that have a unique identification number on them.

This number gets activated online prior to using the tag, and is linked to the owner’s email address and cellphone number. If someone finds a cellphone, keys, baggage, or any other item that has a HomingPIN tag on it, they can easily notify the owner by visiting www.homingpin.com and entering the unique identification number, as well as their contact details. The owner is immediately notified via SMS and email, and is able to contact the founder to retrieve their belongings. Finders are not given the owner’s contact details, however, so it is up to the owner to make contact first.

HomingPIN is integrated with the worldwide World Tracer system, which all baggage handlers have access to. For airlines, HomingPIN will instantly provide information on the bag’s whereabouts when it is found. The airline will then contact the owner to arrange transfer of the goods. What’s more, is that HomingPIN can provide reasonably-priced transportation of your found goods, from anywhere in the world. Because HomingPIN works internationally, your phone will be protected anywhere around the world.

HomingPIN tags, stickers and key rings allow you to tag a variety of items including, but not limited to, luggage, laptop computers, mobile phones, keys, wallets and passports. Easy-to-use and practical, they’re a life-saver for the whole family. With this handy tool, cell phones have a much better chance of being returned to their owners, and owners have peace of mind too!

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