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Traditional paper merchants have been fighting to increase profitability over the last years. Eroding margins have been driven from overall pressure on the supply chains, competition and the decline in demand from printers which has become more severe during the current downturn. Additional market pressures come from alternative sales channels, such as office suppliers and retail channels that use office papers as commodity products to promote their main products .

While many merchants used to be owned by big paper conglomerates the landscape has changed significantly over the last three years with recent divestments and mergers. The biggest merchants all operate independently on a pan-European level promoting their own merchant brands to achieve synergies and extend market reach. All merchants are looking to extend their value proposition either through a closer supply chain integration with their supplier while remaining independent or through the creation of new service or product offerings.

StepChange is supporting merchants to define new business models, refine supply chain and distribution strategies, to identify and capture synergies from pan-European operations, integrate acquired companies and to reduce overall operating costs.