• Matt Harris
    Matt Harris

As a distributor of original, design-focused paper goods, writing tools, journals, and notebooks, Telegram Paper Goods has taken the stationery category to a new level, according to partner Matthew Harris.

STATIONERY NEWS:  When was the company formed and what is the background of the principals?

MATT HARRIS: Telegram Paper Goods was founded in 2008 by myself and business partner Scott Druce.

Prior to this, we owned an award-winning newsagency in the Melbourne CBD called The Source. This store had an incredibly successful design stationery section but we noted that the distributors and agents for these brands were all different people.

This was the seed of the business idea - bring the world’s best design stationery brands together.

Telegram Paper Goods now represents more than 20 brands including Moleskine, Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Delfonics, Rifle Paper Co. and Kaweco among many others.

STN: What is the business model that drives the company and its relationship with manufacturers/suppliers?

MH: We have a very clear set of criteria that we use to select our brands that is based on our experience and understanding of the design stationery category. Only selecting brands that have these qualities has produced both long-term brand partnerships and continuing sales growth.

Telegram brands must:

• Be authentic. We do not follow trends, we lead them.
• Have integrity. We are interested in innovative brands, not replicas.
• Have a great story. Our brands have added appeal because they have a history and/or an interesting reason for existing.
• Have a well-developed product range. Our customers’ expectations demand a substantial presence from each Telegram brand.
• Be driven by quality. We do not choose to represent brands based on its price points.

Our role for the brands we represent is much more than traditional logistics and sales support - we are their brand ambassadors in Australia and New Zealand, providing extensive marketing, communications, visual merchandising and PR services.

STN: What opportunities exist for the reseller channel (and other key channels) to increase sales of relevant office and stationery products?

MH: We only represent brands in the design stationery category, and what we've learned is that if there is a reseller focus on selling the brands, and not just another notebook or pen, then opportunities are everywhere! This requires a commitment on behalf of the reseller to create a well-stocked, clearly branded and delineated area for the brand in-store. The actual space can vary, however, from a well-placed counter stand for a brand like Palomino Blackwing pencils through to a full shop-in-shop sized fitout for a brand like Moleskine.

The size of the space is, in the beginning, less important than the commitment to keeping it well-stocked and presented. When a branded space is implemented properly, both stock turn and sales increase dramatically as a result.

STN: What have been among the best-performing products/categories in recent years?

Across all our customer types (including newsagencies, book stores, department stores and specialist stores) the growth of their design stationery category is growing, and for the most part growing quickly.

There may indeed be a shift in focus towards digital ways of working, however our brands clearly remain an essential part of people’s lives. Beautiful and stylish notebooks and journals of all kinds continue to increase in sales, as does what we categorise as ‘social stationery’ such as greeting cards, postcards and other personalised ways of communicating with others.

Albums and other craft items such as washi tape and pens and inks are also enjoying significant growth.