Despite grim times, and gloomy forecasts for the print industry, Paper Plus has just cause for celebration. The 100 percent New Zealand owned and operated group has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, in a pretty tough market, so how did it defeat the odds?
It is thanks to a number of things, but refocussing the Paper Plus brand, with a greater emphasis on books and the launch of a concept store in Sylvia Park are the major reasons. Since then it has refined its new brand direction and have been busy with a more than $22 million refurbishment and brand redirection plan for all its stores. The refurbishment plans require buy in from all franchisees as it is a large investment, but stores that have converted are already reporting a significant uptake in sales.
“Research showed people loved having their local book store, but they also wanted the benefits that go with larger stores. To that end we’ve opened five mega-stores in some of the smaller centers, including a 1500 square metre Paper Plus store in Te Awamutu, and other mega-stores in Cromwell, Gore, Masterton, and Feilding,” says Lyle Hastings, group marketing manager for Paper Plus.
November this year saw 34 stores upgraded and all 106 Paper Plus stores will be converted by the end of March next year, with ten new stores in the pipeline.
Paper Plus recently won the Westpac Franchise System of the Year award, also taking out Best Retail Franchise System, Best Retail Franchisee and Media campaign of the year. Neilsen data shows it is achieving significant growth in the book category. In a temperamental market where volume grew 1.4 percent but value declined 4.5 percent, Paper Plus has grown volume by 9.1 percent and value by 15.1 percent (YTD).
Paper Plus has been rebranded as a new ‘green brand’ and with the new look comes a shift to a greater focus on book selling as well as a streamlined and consistent store layout, new marketing campaign, advertising creative and point of sale.
“Hyde, the agency responsible for the rebrand were briefed to retain the community focus while reflecting the specialist lifestyle aspect of the brand, and at the same time keeping it fun. They came up with a creative concept called The Paper World, which will be continuing through future campaigns,” says Hastings.
Hyde crafted a number of worlds made of nothing but papery goodness and will soon launch its Christmas campaign.
Then there is the new and improved Paper Plus website and online store, new customer loyalty programme (over and above the existing Fly Buys) and more book focussed events for customers which it will continue to work with book ambassador Kerre Woodham on.
There’s even a kids’ VIP club, where children can have their own swipe cards, play games and win prizes. Currently the book market in NZ is at $250 million while the stationery market sits at $1.23 billion, so Paper Plus’ paper world domination is expected to grow rather than fold.