Top 100 Distributors Analysis
Once again, The usual suspects manage to retain their hold on the coveted spots in Print Professional’s Top 100 Distributor listing. (Although, a new entry this year is Chicago-based InnerWorkings, placing fourth with annual sales of more than $160 million).
Major changes, however, are occurring within the individual companies themselves—a definite factor in their success. An intriguing development at Cleveland-based Proforma involving a partnership with R.R. Donnelly just may shake things up next year. Others, in their quest to help customers grow, are engaging in innovative print management programs and cutting-edge branding strategies and fulfillment services, while exploring technology tools to improve their own operational efficiencies.
According to the sales figures submitted for the ranking, the industry had a stellar year, as total sales for the last fiscal period completed added up to $3.20 billion, compared to $2.91 billion reported last year. Bear in mind, not every respondent completed information for individual product sales. In addition, what one distributor considered a direct mail product, another may have listed in the forms category, and certainly, opinions differ widely as to what constitutes commercial printing.
Depending on who you talk to, forms are either dead or very much alive. Nevertheless, the category’s continued dominance both in supplier and distributor reported sales is indisputable. Refusing to be banished to dusty shelves in cobwebby corners, forms racked up an impressive $725 million, while the previous year’s form sales totaled $704 million. The second highest sales figure was $439 million generated by commercial printing, an increase of just a few million dollars from the previous year’s $436 million. And, an increase of $40 million in sales was reported in the promotional products category, which amounted to $249 million this year.
The other major product categories yielded some surprises. Fewer sales were posted this year for labels & tags, plastic products, direct mail and the combined category of envelopes/folders/stationery when compared to 2006. The decreases for the categories were $26 million, $7 million, $62 million and $232 million respectively. In regard to the combined envelopes/folders/stationery category, the discrepancy seems to stem from ambiguities with the “other” category, which had $513 million in sales, and consisted of filing systems, office supplies, office furniture, environmental displays, coupon books, software programming and prepress services. The overall decreases are more likely a result of reporting idiosyncrasies than declining demand, as most industry professionals consider these strong growth areas.
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