Officeworks is considering transforming its print and scan operation into an industrial provider of signage for various companies across Australia.
The leading office and educational supplier chain has identified the possible evolution to the legacy portion of its business during the unique trading conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic.
The retailer has been busy printing signs for various businesses over the last few months to communicate restrictions and operational changes in the wake of strict social distancing requirements.
Cafes, butchers, hairdressers and others have all flocked to Officeworks in need of signage, presenting a new avenue for Wesfarmers’s already successful national chain.
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“People talk about the decline of the need to print things but our offer has evolved over time, so people don’t necessarily copy as much these days but they do other wide-format printing or more elaborate printing or design or creation, all those sorts of things,” chief finance officer Michael Howard told news.com.au.
“It’s like most things; retail today is not the same as it was yesterday but there is absolutely still a role for the stores that we’ve got as well as online.”
Mr Howard said the abundance of signage currently displayed across the country has inspired his business to reconsider its offer.
“Are we doing everything that we could be to participate in that market? There’s definitely a role for us to play in terms of our online print and copy proposition,” Mr Howard said.
“Print and copy will come in a different form – technology today is not the same as it was 25 years ago when we started the business.
“So all these elements of our offer will continue to evolve.”
Webcams, headsets, furniture, educational resources and art supplies for schoolkids at home have flown off the shelves, but so have some more unusual items.
Strict social distancing measures made it not just a legal requirement but a matter of life and death to ensure crowds were being controlled at various businesses and services.
This made digit tally counters a hot commodity.
“The volume of these little counters that we sold ramped up quite quickly, so it goes to show how a government announcement translates down to society and how it translates very quickly,” the CFO said.
Australians have adapted positively to the need to work from home during the pandemic despite many not having a dedicated office or study, a survey commissioned by Officeworks found.
Nearly half said they were enjoying working from their home even though a quarter of the 1000 respondents were’’t using a desk and 67 per cent are going without a desk chair, instead using furniture and other objects from around the house.
“The research tells us that many Australians working from home have adapted to this new ‘normal’ as best they can and have found ways to improvise,” Mr Howard said.
“As we look forward, with a potential shift to more professionals working from home in the future, we encourage everyone to remember to look at the ergonomic set-up of their workspace at home.”
More than a third have needed to balance work with managing children being homeschooled, with nearly 60 per cent of those saying they’re feeling anxious about the challenge and have been forced to work later into the night than normal.
‘‘Having lived through it first-hand in my own home, the juggle between schooling your kids and doing your own work is a daily challenge,” Mr Howard said.
“We have seen parents adapt their lifestyles and routines in ways they never may have considered until now.”