Paperstone – Office life, work and fun

600+ days like no other in the office supplies industry

By Paperstone on January 13, 2022 in Uncategorized

23rd March 2020 and life took a dramatic turn for everyone including the UK’s office supplies industry. Boris Johnson announced we’d only be allowed to leave home to shop for basic goods, exercise once a day, or for essential work.

In this latest blog post, we talk to Jim, Paperstone’s CEO & Co-Founder, about the ups, downs, twists, and turns to navigate the next 600+ days of the global pandemic.

How has the pandemic changed Paperstone?

Profoundly. Our main supplier went bust, our customers (mostly) stopped going to the office and sales dropped by 40%.

What actions did you take to survive the storm?

  • We had a backup supplier already in place so we quickly switched everything to them. I likened it to running a marathon whilst having open heart surgery as we were taking orders throughout the switch over.
  • Our team started working fully remotely in April 2020. A huge change to our old office environment.
  • We dug deep and made sure that we were looking after the customers we still had.
  • We pivoted our offering towards home users offering smaller pack sizes where we could and promoting contact-free deliveries to their doorstep.
  • Very sadly, as a direct impact of fewer sales, we had to let 4 members of our close-knit team go. We knew office life wasn’t about to quickly return.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

Staying positive and focused during so much change and so many hurdles.

What’s your biggest learning?

At the moment I would say it’s been about the team and how resilient everyone is. I’m not sure that will be the biggest learning as I haven’t had time to fully reflect on the events of the last 22+ months with enough perspective.

What are your predictions for the future of the office supplies industry?

I have no doubt it will be a smaller industry. Technology and changing workplaces were already reducing demand in a pre-covid world.

The industry needs to continue evolving to make sure the products we offer are fit for the changing working environment.

The industry has already gone through large changes. Think back to when the photocopier and fax machine were the hive of office activity. Those times have long since gone.

Now the industry has to learn how to service a fragmented customer base, consuming fewer products. It’s not so much a step-change, more an evolution of what was already happening.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

In society, we all have an important role in choosing which companies we support and where we spend our money.

Most people agree that a bustling high street filled with independent shops is good for a community. I agree and love such towns. Do I spend most of my money in that way? Sadly no. When I’m driving through, it’s usually after 5.30 pm and most shops are closed. I don’t have time to make the journey during a normal working day.

I shop in the evening when my children are asleep, so most of my shopping is online. And that brings about a new debate…are all internet companies greedy, faceless, money machines?

Or does a well-rated, independent company staffed by experts who happen to choose not to have a high street store to keep prices low – despite not always being the cheapest – get my money instead? Yes, they do.

Ultimately does it matter?

I believe it does. We built Paperstone on traditional values with a forward-facing outlook. Time will tell which sorts of companies our customers want to support.


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