The BOSS Federation are seeking assistance from the UK government in order to address their concerns regarding the office supplies industry. The association has published a briefing document Priorities for Business Supplies 2015-17 which is due to be sent to MPs and members of the House of Lords on behalf of the industry.
The office supplies industry is one of the UK’s largest product and service sectors, employing over 75,000 people across 4,000 companies and generating over £15 billion per year. Many employed in this sector work within independent SMEs.
The five priorities set out by the BOSS Federation in their report are:
- Optimising competitiveness and profitability
- Securing access to funding
- Developing skills
- Delivering sustainable production at an affordable cost
- Postal services
Optimising Competitiveness And Profitability
The office supplies industry is continuing to evolve with traditional office products being enhanced by new electronic office supplies (EOS), facilities management (FM) and print managed services (PMS). In their report, the BOSS Federation explain that as the industry adapts to new ways of working there is a requirement to build an environment that encourages competitiveness. In order to support business investment, unnecessary regulatory burdens should be eliminated and tax increases minimised whilst maintaining existing tax relief schemes.
Securing Access To Funding
According to the report, SMEs are still struggling to gain access to finance and often the cost of lending has been too high to be a financially viable option for such businesses. Many small businesses are unaware of what government business support funding is available to them or are experiencing difficulty in accessing these schemes. More competition in the lending sector is also required in order to help small businesses to invest and grow.
Late payment continues to be an issue for small businesses. The BOSS Federation report suggests that the government should look to make public agencies pay SME invoices within 30 days.
Within the office supplies industry there are an array of skills available among the talented workforce; science, technology, engineering, design and mathematics, to name but a few. In order to attract new workers to the industry, the BOSS Federation would like to see the government encouraging the take up of apprenticeships and other skills funding without applying age restrictions. They would also like to see less red tape involved; taking away the burden of administrative requirements and cash flow constraints which currently prevent many small businesses taking part in employer led funding schemes.
Delivering Sustainable Production At An Affordable Cost
Sustainability is an important factor in the office supplies industry and 65% of all paper is now recycled. The industry is continuing to reduce its carbon footprint and for every tree logged in a managed forest, three to four are replanted. Yet there are still issues to address, in particular as an industry that relies on affordable and reliable energy supplies, rising energy costs are having an impact on competitiveness. The BOSS Federation would like to see the government introduce incentives for companies to improve energy efficiencies and encourage more competition between suppliers.
As online sales continue to grow, and customers come to expect the option of a next day delivery service to receive their orders, office supply businesses need to access efficient and economical postal services. One of the recommendations put forward by the BOSS Federation is for the Government to put pressure on Royal Mail to reduce costs, improve efficiency and improve customer focus. To view and download the full document, click here.
The annual BOSS Awards are taking place at the Hilton Metropole, Birmingham on 15 October 2015.