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(Photo: Business View Caribbean)

SOS pivots to meet BPO, work-from-home demands

(Photo: Business View Caribbean)

Stationery and Office Supplies (SOS) Limited’s pivot in response to the changing needs of clients — especially those within the BPO sector — under COVID-19 conditions was among the strategies that buttressed revenue during the year. 

In its new annual report on financial year 2020, released on June 1, 2021, management said that the advent of COVID-19 — which caused the closure of schools and hotels, work-from-home orders, as well as curfew measures — resulted in an 80 per cent decline in the company’s stationery and furniture sales, causing major losses during April of 2020. 

“It is with this tenacity that we continue to build the momentum for an even better 2021. As we continue to monitor the economic recovery of the country and the world, we are hopeful that we will be able to exceed our 2019 performance”

For the year ended December 31, 2020, company revenues declined 20 per cent to JM$972.3 million, down from JM$1.2 billion in 2019. 

Net profit for the year totalled JM$33.09 million, a 75 per cent reduction relative to the JM$134.56 million reported in 2019.

Pivoting and retroffiting

The company’s pivot began in responding to the need for customised products and services. These included introducing a home office line of products, as well as providing sanitisation products and retrofitting solutions to clients, especially those within the BPO sector.

Management said  the demand for “functional and attractive” furnishings resulted in an uptake of sales in this area. There was also an increase through implemented ‘Buy One, Get One’ (BOGO) sales held in May, June and August, with a focus on work-from-home solutions for existing clients. 

Discounts were also offered to corporate customers for employees in need of office furniture for work-from-home arrangements. 

To boost engagement with clients, the company also engaged certified fitness trainer Mark Miller of MonkFit Wellness Systems to provide tips and best practices for at-home workouts and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Growth and expansion

In May 2018, SOS acquired the manufacturing assets of Book Empire Limited, which produces SEEK notebooks, quire books (pamphlets), and writing pads. 

Last year, the SEEK line accounted for about JM$39 million of revenues for the year.  “These sales came during our most challenging year in existence,” management commented.

Stationery and Office Supplies acquired the manufacturing assets of Book Empire Limited, producers of SEEK notebooks and writing pads in 2018. (File photo)

SOS also pressed ahead, during 2020, with expansion plans that resulted in the purchase of 34 Collins Green property in September 2020, as well as completing the construction of a new 8,000-square-foot warehouse.

Additionally, the company expanded its product line with the re-introduction of industrial racking — a complement to an existing line of lightweight racks and shelving. 

Through an agreement with a manufacturer in China, the company introduced customisable, heavy-duty storage solutions which it also uses in its own warehouse. The solution stacks up to 36 feet and stores up to 5,000 pounds per shelf and allows more efficient use of physical warehouse space. 

Stationery and Office Supplies employees work together to place products on an industrial rack.
(Photo courtesy SOS Limited)

“As a distributor of the industrial racks, we aim to reach markets across the Caribbean region as our local customers continue to respond favourably to the product,” management pointed out.

Management, in reviewing its 2020 pivot, stated, “It is with this tenacity that we continue to build the momentum for an even better 2021. As we continue to monitor the economic recovery of the country and the world, we are hopeful that we will be able to exceed our 2019 performance.”