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SOS expands its reach to Trinidad & Tobago

Stationery & Office Supplies Limited, SOS, has lodged a foothold in Trinidad & Tobago in a deal with regional supplier of school and office products, The Office Authority Limited, to distribute three of its furniture lines.

The office furniture and supplies company will also do business on behalf of its new partner in its home market.

The T&T company will distribute the Evolve, Image and Torch furniture lines in its market, while SOS will distribute the Office Authority’s stationery in Jamaica.

Shipments of the furniture to Trinidad began in late January.

“It works out perfectly that they would distribute our lines and we will distribute (their) paper products in Jamaica, which helps us out with Seek and all the other things we’re doing,” McDaniel said.

Seek is the book brand owned and produced by SOS from its base at Beechwood Avenue, Kingston.

The Office Authority partnership will run on a year-to-year basis with the opportunity for continuation and renegotiation, according to McDaniel.

Each shipment to the twin-island republic, so far, was valued at US$25,000, or just under $3.9 million. McDaniel is projecting annual revenues of US$250,000 to US$300,000 or $39 million to $46 million from the deal.

The Jamaican company is also in negotiations with principals in two other islands for them to distribute SOS’ office furniture products, he added.

The Evolve line of office furniture is proprietary to SOS and is a recent addition to its operations, having come on the market in August 2022. The furniture is manufactured on the stationery company’s behalf by a foreign supplier.

In four to five months, at year ending December, the Evolve line had racked up sales of $28 million. On an annualised basis that would amount to more than $67 million, which would still be a relatively small contribution to SOS’s total sales of nearly $1.75 billion.

Overall, SOS had a good year in 2022 with revenue up 55 per cent and profit rising by a strong 139 per cent to $256 million.

Having secured the partnership in Trinidad, alongside expectations that new markets will open up in other Caribbean islands, McDaniel is bullish regarding continued sales growth for Evolve and other supplies, and expects an additional boost from the sale of the Trinidadian company’s products.

Essentially, McDaniel sees the new partnership as an additional route to supplying the local market, given that SOS’ ability to meet rising market demand is constrained by its capacity, which is once again on the verge of being maxed out, even after new investments in the Seek line of stationery last year.

McDaniel said the Office Authority contract would complement its own business since SOS intends to go after a different market segment with those products. The Trinidadian stationery are smaller notepads and priced lower than the Seek line’s extended use products.

Some of SOS’ revenue gains last year came from the additional investment in the Seek operation, through which the office supplies company expanded its product offerings to include invoice books, receipt books, delivery books, graph paper, among others.

But that capacity is almost used up.

“What we’re doing with Seek is that we’re almost at the maximum capacity right now. Since the year started, I don’t have one book in stock, because everything that we produce is sold,” McDaniel said.

The company invested $10 million in a new printing press to produce the popular Seek Composition books, the sales of which ended up doubling segment revenue.

“We had our highest Seek revenues last year of about $82 million. Our goal for this year, is to be over the $100 million mark for that …,” the managing director said.

The deal with Office Authority will see SOS distributing the Trinidad company’s ‘Smart’ brand of stationery.

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