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Campbell's diversifies into office furniture

Published:Wednesday | December 4, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Chief executive officer of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Dennis Chung (left), and managing director of Campbell's Office Supplies, Heather Hill, with the official ribbon cuttting at the opening of Campbell's office furniture supply store at Twin Gates Plaza in Kingston on Monday, November 25. Manager of the store, Orville Hill Jr, is at right. - Rudolph Brown/ Photographer

Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter

Campbell's Office Supplies Limited has established a furniture outlet at Twin Gates Plaza in Kingston, to tap more deeply into a market segment that it only began flirting with last year.

Outfitted at a cost of $10 million, the office furniture store provides an additional delivery point for existing customers, said company director Orville Hill.

"Within the market, we are well known for stationery and office supplies, and it is our intention to complement this with growth in furniture and electronics," Hill told Wednesday Business, noting the new outlet marks the company's full immersion into the office furniture segment.

The company "currently does limited furniture sales" through its Eastwood Park Road head office, but is looking to improve its market presence and increase revenues through the new location, Hill said.

"Within the next two years, we expect that sales from this division will account for 15 per cent to 20 per cent of annual sales," he told Wednesday Business, adding that other office supplies will also be sold from the location.

"Furniture has always been on the periphery of our services. We realised there is a need for it but there was limited space where we are operating now," he said.

The new store officially opened for business on November 25.

The company made its foray into the furniture market about a year ago by filling orders for furniture through other companies, but is now looking to forge local alliances with local furniture makers.

"Over time, we will be looking to get some goods manufactured here but most of the items that are stocked now are actually items that are imported," said Hill.

As with the opening of its Montego Bay location in 1999, capital for the venture came from the "process of reinvesting the small profits that were made in the early stages" of Campbell's operation, he said.

The 1,200-square foot Twin Gates store we will offer a variety of office furniture, including cabinets, desk chairs and credenzas, along with electronic items typically stocked by the entity.

Campbell's Office Supplies had its genesis 20 years ago in the car trunk of its managing director, Heather Hill, wife of Orville Hill. The company evolved in time into a more formal operation with offices at Ocean Boulevard, downtown Kingston, which was its first outlet for a while. It eventually acquired the premises at Eastwood Park Road, the directors said, and also has an office in Montego Bay.

Today, Campbell's has some 2,700 active customers and offers delivery nationwide.

"This includes major players in financial, tourism and education sectors, along with state agencies and distribution agencies," said Heather Hill.

Additionally, "Our risk profile is healthy because sales from our leading customers do not exceed four per cent of our annual sales," she said.

Five additional staff will join the current cadre of 36 employees of the furniture store "when the unit is fully operational".

The staff complement includes 15 persons who have been with Campbell's for more than 10 years, the company said.

The establishment of the outlet "is budgeted to cost $10 million, inclusive of leasehold improvement, increase in inventory and other infrastructure", the company said.

The outlet will be managed by Orville Hill Jr, the couple's son.

Campbell's Office Supplies was incorporated in January 1993. The western office now operates from a 700-square foot outlet at the Montego Bay Trade Centre.