Dubai, UAE: International suppliers of stationery and office supplies are turning to the Middle East and Africa (MEA) for future business growth, with the UAE presenting itself as the ideal gateway to access hard-to-reach markets.
Growth in the global stationery and office supplies market is expected to come from emerging markets such as the MEA. Analysts TechNavio forecast an annual market increase in the region of 15 per cent, while Conlumino, another analyst, estimate the MEA market for paper, stationery and office supplies, will be worth US$12 billion by 2019.
While some suppliers are now just testing the waters, others have been in the market for many years. Vienna Office Supplies (VOS) for example, has been exporting high-end stationery, office products, school supplies and artists´ materials to the Middle East for the last 30 years.
The Austrian-headquartered company is entirely export-oriented, with the Middle East comprising 75 per cent of its market. VOS represents on an exclusive basis eight European brands, such as Schneider Writing Instruments, Cretacolor artist supplies, and SAX office accessories.
VOS will be eager to increase its presence further when it lines up alongside more than 300 exhibitors from 36 countries at Paperworld Middle East 2017, which takes place from 14-16 March at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Karl Vytiska, the Managing Director of VOS, said the company has built up its presence in the region based on long-term relationships, including ones established at Paperworld Middle East.
“VOS began exhibiting at Paperworld Middle East since its first edition seven years ago, and it’s where we first tied up with Dubai Library Distributors as our local partner,” said Vytiska. “Over the years, we have placed increased emphasis on exhibiting at the show, as it helps us reach over 95 per cent of our clientele.
“Our capital is knowing the market through the people with whom we are dealing with for more than one generation in some cases. This personal contact is very important here in the Middle East, more important certainly than other markets.”
He added: “We keep our fires burning with our old clients and traditional networks in the Middle East, but there are always changes in the market, whereby distributors, wholesalers, and importers come and go. It’s important to meet the new-comers in the field, and to that end, Paperworld Middle East is very important for us.”
In its 7th edition in 2017, Paperworld Middle East is the region’s largest B2B trade show covering the entire range of stationery and office supplies, from school and gift articles, office or household paper, arts and crafts, and party and festival articles, to printers and multimedia.
The strong European presence will be complemented by exhibitors coming from the UK, Portugal, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, with household stationery names such as Lamy and Olympia taking part. Other key exporting exhibitor countries include China, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, and Turkey.
Portuguese companies on-board include The Navigator Company, Olmar, Bi-Silque, DKT, and Olmer, which exports its range of Fegol office supplies and Pajory school supplies to over 25 countries.
“Over the last three years we’ve increased our sales in the Middle East by over 45 per cent, which reflects the compatibility of our products with the region,” said Joao Oliveira, the CEO of Olmar. “We’ve created very good partnerships with distributors that we’ve established through Paperworld Middle East.”
Meanwhile, Zebra, a Japanese maker of writing instruments, will also return, and will eagerly look to increase its footprint in the African market with its range of gel tip pens and mechanical pencils.
“We’ve been present in the Middle East now for more than 20 years through our distributors and so we’re looking out for other markets to develop, specifically Africa,” said Terry Miyata, General Manager of Zebra, which posts US$25 million in global sales every year.
“We’ve had strong leads from Ghana, Kenya, and Ethiopia that were actually through Paperworld Middle East. Our export market is about 40 per cent of our annual turnover, so we’re looking to increase this through Africa, while also strengthening our position in the Middle East.”
The countdown to the 7th edition of Paperworld Middle East comes following a record turnout of exhibitors and visitors at the previous edition in 2016, firmly cementing its position as the must-attend trade show for the regional paper, office supplies, and stationery industries.
The 2016 edition attracted 6,774 visitors from 101 countries, 11 per cent up on the previous year, while 304 exhibitors from 36 countries showcased their latest wares, from office supplies, paper, school, party and gift articles, to toys, games, wrapping paper, printer consumables, and arts and craft supplies.
Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, the organiser of Paperworld Middle East, said: “Shifting tides in international trade and economic uncertainty over the last 12 months has meant global manufacturers have had to refocus their export outlook, and the MEA is grabbing their attention.
“Paperworld Middle East provides unmatched access to market representatives from the fast-growing Middle East, Africa, Central and South Asia regions, and has seen increasing numbers of leading international brands and players participating from across the world.”
Paperworld Middle East 2017 will return with popular features including the Green Office Area, where the spotlight will shine on sustainably produced essential office supplies; and the Wrapstar gift wrapping competition. More information is available at: www.paperworldme.com.