LENZBURG, Switzerland, Jun 11, 2001 -- Viking Office Products, a wholly owned subsidiary of Office Depot, Inc. (NYSE:ODP), the world`s largest seller of office products, today announced that it will launch a direct mail business and Internet site in Switzerland in late 2001/early 2002.
The Company is currently hiring local managers and employees to help build revenue and service the new logistics and call center expected to be open in late 2001/early 2002. The new logistics center will be housed in a state-of-the-art 6,000 square meter warehouse centrally located in Lenzburg. Viking plans to offer 24-hour delivery out of this warehouse for customers in the German-speaking region of Switzerland and later this year in the French-speaking region of Switzerland. It is also in the process of planning its new 30 person call center, which will house both native French and German speaking employees to ensure that customers will hear their native tongue when ordering from Viking.
Rolf van Kaldekerken, President of European Operations for Office Depot and Viking Office Products commented, "Our goal is to bring Viking Office Products` fanatical customer service to Switzerland and become the leading provider of office products and services in the country. Viking`s practice of fanatical customer service enables us to develop lasting relationships with our customers and become their trusted resource for office supplies. In addition, our very strong presence throughout Europe and leading market share in each country in which we operate allows us to buy products better and pass on those savings to our customers."
Bruce Nelson, Chief Executive Officer, added, "We are very excited to enter the Swiss market. We see enormous opportunity to continue to increase our international business in this growing business environment."
Viking Office Products plans to launch its highly successful catalog direct mail business with the introduction of a 240,000 catalog mailing across Switzerland starting late 2001/early 2002. The Company maintains one of the highest customer service and retention levels of any European office supply company and is widely acclaimed for its dedication to the concept of "fanatical customer service" - impress a customer so much that they want to buy again and again.
In addition to its fanatical customer service, Viking Office Products attributes much of its success with its target customer, small and medium-sized businesses, to its highly targeted assortment of office supplies. After months of market research in Switzerland, the Company is ready to offer a broad range of merchandise to meet the specific growing needs and preferences of the Swiss small to medium-sized business customer. Viking plans to launch its first catalog with approximately 3,500 products and expects to quickly increase the number to over 7,500 items later in 2002.
In conjunction with Viking`s highly acclaimed direct mail program, the Company is also planning to launch a new Internet site in Switzerland under the url: www.vikingdirekt.ch in early/mid 2002. The site will incorporate many innovative and popular features already in Viking`s other international sites, including Quick Order by Stock Number(TM), which enables customers to enter catalog orders online; and Supplies QuickFind(TM), which helps customers identify the correct supplies for their business machines. The site will offer customers a look at its real-time inventory, keeping track of what is actually available and in stock. With www.vikingdirekt.ch, Swiss customers have an easy-to-use electronic commerce site to make their everyday and major office supply purchases.
The new Internet site will also take advantage of the Company`s new Swiss infrastructure including merchandising, warehousing and distribution, which will allow it to offer customers the highest level of customer service right from the start.
About Viking Office Products
Viking Office Products, Inc. was established in January 1960 as an U.S. company selling office products to small and medium-sized businesses through direct marketing catalogs. Viking`s operations consist of operations in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and Japan. On August 26, 1998, Viking merged with Office Depot, Inc.
Viking provides customers with fanatical customer service, convenience and speed of delivery. The Company has gained market share throughout the U.S., as well as in Europe, Australia and Japan, by aggressively marketing basic, consumable office supplies plus computer supplies, custom printed stationery, office machines, paper of all types, and office furniture. The Company has pioneered new database marketing technology, producing unique and effective catalog personalization that gets extremely good results.
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