I was very interested in the news that Westcoast is starting a dedicated division selling office supplies.
It has brought a division manager on board and intends to have a product portfolio in place within three months.
While many firms are just looking to sell the next IT buzzword/gadget, Westcoast has obviously spotted an opportunity in this most basic of office staples.
I mean we all need pens, paper and staples don't we?
The paperless office has not really taken off in the way we all imagined, and as a journalist, my staple desk companion is a pen and notepad. I frequently run out of both.
In the consumer space, children going back to school still want a shiny new pencil case and assorted pens, pencils etc. It doesn't matter how many iPads or laptops the government hands out to schools, the basic need to be able to read and write on paper will never go away. So someone has to supply it to all those retail chains out there.
Also businesses of all sizes need stationery, so again someone has to supply them with their office basics.
The biggest office supplies distributor I'm aware of until now is Spicers, which has been sitting nicely in its niche for a number of years, occasionally venturing out to sell something IT-related.
But it hasn't really had any huge challengers to its crown, until Westcoast dropped its bombshell yesterday.
This getting back to basics mentality reminds me of some of the higher profile resellers out there who admit that hardware is a core part of their business, rather than treating it as a dirty little secret and something they should be ashamed of.
So is Westcoast making a very shrewd move? Or is coming into a very commoditised market a big risk?
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
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