Wesfarmers muscling into government procurement

By Julian Bajkowski

Retail stationery juggernaut Officeworks has successfully prized its way into the Queensland government’s procurement panel for office and educational supplies as the company pushes hard to build up its business-to-business (B2B) customer base in the public sector.

The win by the Wesfarmers subsidiary is a significant development for government buyers because it signals the entry of major retailers what has traditionally been the territory of specialist trade supply companies.

The deal in Queensland is also a strong signal that Officeworks is intending to target other state and local governments for business as part of wider growth strategy to tap into markets that are typically worth more than $100 million a year in the eastern states.

The cost of purchasing stationery and office supplies for government agencies and schools has been an issue that has come into sharp focus for policymakers in Queensland and New South Wales where procurement reforms have aimed to shake up previously highly centralised panel arrangements to allow more flexible local companies to compete for business.

In New South Wales, the O’Farrell government has made a point of questioning the value and overall cost of requiring relatively small or incidental purchases to be run through centralised purchasing hubs when buying from a local or nearby business could be much faster and simpler.

Officeworks says that its arrangement with the Queensland Government runs for an initial three year arrangement “with options to extend for a further two twelve month periods.”

The arrangement follows a successful tender by Officeworks and makes it one of three accredited suppliers Queensland public sector agencies can choose from when buying office and educational supplies.

"This appointment recognises Officeworks' commitment to working with the government and commercial sectors to realise efficiencies and savings across their office supplies and stationery needs,” said Mark Beaton, National Manager for Officeworks’ Business division.

Officeworks says its tender submission to the Queensland government included “a number of bespoke features: that enable state government bodies to buy more efficiently. The features include a “dedicated” web page for the state government, a “tailored procurement process” and the provision of “specialist account managers” dedicated to the government account.

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