By Andy Braithwaite for OPI.net
France-based Groupe Hamelin has re-entered the Australian school and office supplies market by taking a controlling interest in the Bantex Group.
Bantex went into voluntary administration at the end of 2017 and has been operating under a deed of company arrangement (DOCA) since February after reaching an agreement with its creditors. Hamelin CEO Eric Joan confirmed to OPI that Bantex is no longer under DOCA as the deed fund has now been paid in full following the takeover by Hamelin.
“The company was restructured during the voluntary administration and is now healthy,” said Joan. “The business was run for years with a lack of working capital and too high a cost structure. These problems have now been solved and we are very excited by the opportunity.”
Bantex Australia has been rebranded as Hamelin Brands Pty and will continue to market the well-known Bantex and Quill products in the country. The business is being run by Managing Director Franck Troquay. He was formerly running Hamelin’s operations in Malaysia, but has now relocated to Australia.
Former Bantex Managing Director Michael Stathakis is remaining with the company as Business Development Officer. Commenting on this appointment, Joan disagreed with OPI’s suggestion that Stathakis’ move into this role might be viewed as a temporary one.
“Even independent, Michael has always been part of the Hamelin family and we have known each other for almost 18 years,” said the Hamelin CEO. “The bailout of Bantex by Hamelin is for him the opportunity of a new start. He will bring his energy and market knowledge to a venture where we will bring management, structure and product
innovation. We believe it is a recipe for great success for all of us and Michael is just as excited as we are.”
The acquisition marks a return to the Hamelin fold of Bantex Australia. It sold the company to Australian Office Wholesalers in 2001 as it focused on integrating the Elba and Bantex brands in Europe following their acquisition by Hamelin in 1999.
Hamelin returned to the Australian market when it acquired the Canson brand in 2007, but it sold this business to FILA in 2016. Joan said the group was now “back for good” in Australia as it focused on its core school and office products categories.
Terms of the Bantex Australia deal were not disclosed.
With rapid development being the norm, the school and office supplies sector is today growing into one of Africa’s most high in demand, requiring a steady flow of materials into its ever-evolving educational and enterprise landscape.
The School & Office Expo will see South Africa make a significant impact in defining the business dynamics of Africa’s expanding stationery market. Four companies from the country will set in motion the process of breaking the monopoly of Dubai-based traders and seizing a significant chunk of the African market share with a range of colourful and aesthetically designed stationery products.
The companies, namely Bantex, Freedom Stationery, Accent Manufacturing and Empire Toys & Stationery will lend vibgyor from their rainbow nation, making the event more a festival of stationery to celebrate a proud continent’s ascent into a self-reliant future.
Johannesburg-based Bantex is a market-driven stationery manufacturing and distribution company that supplies South Africa and Africa an extensive range of educational and home stationery items. It lends to the African market its parent Bantex A/S Denmark’s trademark for top-of-the-line quality products. Perfection is the norm, nothing less. Bantex uses advanced manufacturing technologies and environment-friendly materials to create products that are a combination of utility and aesthetics.
Freedom stationery, true to its name, is about empowerment of the youth through affordable Scholastic books. Based in Isithebe, KwaZulu-Natal, the three-decade old company has evolved from an aspiring competitor to an iconic torchbearer for a Nation raring to take its rightful place amongst the world’s leading economies. No wonder its slogan “Education for the Nation” rings a bell through its track record of providing over 100 million books every year from its five full-fledged branches in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and East London.
This almost two-decade old reputed manufacturer, based 50 kms south of Durban, has been consistently producing high-quality adhesive putty for a rapidly evolving world market. Accent’s current position as South Africa’s leading player in the field stands testimony to its competitive spirit and passion for innovation in successfully addressing the needs of a demanding customer base.
Empire Toys and Stationery Co (Pty) Ltd
The Butterfly brand, true to its name, is about brightening your world by surrounding yourself with vibrant and colourful stationery. Whether it is colouring books, reading books, pencil bags, school bags, drinking bottle, luggage, office stationery and even toys, Butterfly has something interesting for every target age group. Add to it, Disney-themed products – a delight for every child the world over.
Come May 18th , the colourful and quality-centric visual treat from all four lion-hearted South African companies will be on display for all to see at the first-of-its-kind School & Office Expo in Nairobi.
Save the date!