”The catalogue is our best sales vehicle”
With its WPS business, US firm Brady reaches corporate customers across Europe with more than 70 different catalogues. The challenge is to produce all these catalogues cost-effectively – a task that Brady has had great success with. WPS (Workplace Safety) is the direct marketing business of the global Brady Corp. (see fact box). In Europe, Brady is a leading supplier of identification and safety products for business and industry. Signs, labels and personal protective equipment are just some of the hundreds of different product groups in the range.
Close to customers
With Brady established in 13 European countries, Holmen’s paper has chosen to visit one of the larger sales companies, Brady GmbH, Seton Division, in Egelsbach a few kilometres outside Frankfurt.
“This is a superb location, right in middle of Germany’s industrial heartland. Frankfurt is also one of the hubs for the European motorway network, providing the ideal infrastructure for distribution,” explains Ralph Uhl, Print & Media Manager*, when he welcomes us into his Egelsbach office.
Catalogue most effective
Efficient logistics are of course crucial for a company that offers its customers in Germany a range of 70 000 different products. In total across Europe, the figure is over 200 000 products. All these are sold via direct marketing, either by mail order or through online shops, ecommerce, telephone sales and so on.
“The catalogue is by far our best sales vehicle. A whole 80 per cent of our sales in Europe are generated by our paper catalogues,” states our host.
Ralph Uhl is responsible for the production and distribution of Brady’s catalogues, all marketing of non-procurement goods & services and the advertising budget in Europe in the WPS business. He therefore has to weigh up where he produces and distributes the advertising material across Europe to get the best effect for the company and to be competitive against other multi-channel players in areas such as Digital/E-commerce.
“We know that in most cases customers make their purchasing decisions with the help of the catalogues. They may then submit their orders by email or through our website, but it’s the purchasing decisions that are key.”
More uniform production
Brady issues 73 different catalogues in Europe, everything from small specialist 48-page catalogues to the large country catalogues of between 700 and 800 pages. The total number of copies printed tops 17 million per year. Local tradition and culture have always played a major role in the graphic industry and just a few years ago the various national catalogues looked very different in terms of format, volume and layout. In addition, there were a wealth of different solutions for printing and distribution. Efficiencies were clearly there for the taking, and in 2011 Ralph Uhl and the circulation team launched a consolidation project that covered all the countries and the whole chain from planning and production to distribution.
Meticulous paper testing
One of the key points on the project agenda was choice of paper. Instead of the prevailing 18 suppliers, the aim was to have no more than a couple. In fact the ideal was to find one supplier that could offer paper in all the brightnesses and grammages required. In reviewing its database of suppliers, Brady came across Holmen Paper, whose wide range of LWU paper (Light Weight Uncoated) looked extremely promising. After meticulous testing, in 2012 Brady chose Holmen XLNT for most of its catalogue production in Europe. And that relationship continues to this day.
“In addition to the purely technical properties, we liked the feel of the paper. Thin and glossy paper might work when selling luxury products or very specific products, but our catalogues are read by people in factories and workshops. In this context it’s better to have a paper that feels solid in the hand and has a slightly more matte and reader-friendly surface,” says Ralph Uhl.
Cost savings crucial
The crucial factor in choosing Holmen XLNT was, however, the cost savings. Holmen XLNT’s high bulk** makes the paper significantly thicker than other printing papers of the same grammage. This enabled Brady to switch
from 45 g paper to 38 g paper while retaining the same print quality. A weight reduction of 7 g may seem insignificant but if, like Brady, you distribute millions of catalogues, the savings really mount up. “By changing to Holmen XLNT, we managed to reduce our production and distribution costs by 14 per cent, which means a great deal in a business like ours. After all, distribution is by far our biggest expense, much bigger than the production, printing and paper costs,” comments Ralph Uhl.
The Brady management have now achieved exactly whatthey were aiming for: more uniform and cost-effective catalogue production. The number of suppliers of paper, printing and distribution has been cut dramatically. And nowadays, Ralph Uhl prefers to talk about ‘business partners’ rather than suppliers.
“The partnership with Holmen Paper has been exceedingly positive, not least on the technical service front. Together, we hold detailed discussions on how we can develop the paper and they really listen to what we say.”
Brady’s business in Europe has expanded strongly and the forecast is for this growth to continue.
“As society’s demand for health and safety in the workplace and product safety steadily grows, so does demand for our products. Of course the internet is likely to increase its share of our sales, but the catalogue holds a very strong position. If, together with our business partners, we can continue to improve cost-effectiveness throughout the chain, I believe the catalogue will remain ‘our best sales vehicle’ for many years to come,” concludes Ralph Uhl.
* Ralph Uhl is Print & Media Manager, Workplace Safety Businesses EMEA within Brady.
** Bulk is a measure of the paper’s volume. Paper of the same grammage can have different thicknesses depending on the paper’s bulk. High bulk means thick, but relatively light, paper.
About Brady Corp.
Brady Corp., which was founded in 1914, is now a leading international player in areas including health & safety and industrial identification solutions. Brady Corp. employs 7 400 people and turns over around USD 1.1 billion, of which about USD 420 million relates to WPS sales. The corporation’s headquarters are in Milwaukee, USA.
The WPS (Workplace Safety) platform is the direct marketing business of Brady Corp. that sells under a variety of brands in Europe, e.g. Seton, Signals, Welco, Securimed, Runelandhs and Pervaco. It specialises in the manufacture and distribution of safety products that identify and protect premises, products and people. Signs, labels and labelling equipment are major product groups. In addition to its European business, Brady also has sales companies in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China and the USA.
“By changing to Holmen XLNT, we managed to reduce our production and distribution costs by 14 per cent, which means a great deal in a business like ours,” says Ralph Uhl.
Brady issues 73 different catalogues in Europe, everything from small specialist 48-page catalogues to the large country catalogues of between 700 and 800 pages.