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  • Piggyback propaganda - Dirty Depot to denounce kickbacks!

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    Breaking News


    Dirty Depot to denounce
    USC kickback commissions


    30 Jul 10 (Updated)

    As anticipated yesterday, we confirm reports that Office Depot sales reps have begun contacting U.S. Communities (USC)customers and attempting to switch them immediately to their new consort The Cooperative Purchasing Network (TCPN).

  • Proficiency Profile - Warden's of California

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    Peterson_chris_wardens_2Warden’s keep 
    clear sales focus

    New isgroup chairman riding
    out the California crunch

    29 Jul 10

    Chris Peterson,is VP supplies division at Warden’s Office Suppliesthe leading office supply specialist in the Central Valley of California. We met Chris at the is.groupJune conference in Denver, just after he made his opening address as the new chairman. His resounding message to the resurgent group was sales! sales! sales! We discuss his plans...

  • MWV Q2'10 Financial review

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    williamson-david-mwvBTS delays
    slow MWV

    Sales and profits flat


    28 Jul 10
    the leading US packaging and stationery maker, reported a strong growth in its Q2’10 sales and profits. Unexpectedly, the consumer and office division slowed down...

  • Office Depot declares war on USC

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    Breaking News

    Let battle

    Depot declares war after
    divorce with US Communities


    27 Jul 10 (1600ET)
    As exclusively predicted 2 weeks ago, after an intimate 14 year marriage with US Communities (USC), Office Depot,the beleaguered bigbox, this afternoon, announced details of its new consort, The Cooperative Purchasing Network (TCPN).How will the spurned partner react to the unfaithful behaviour of is ex-soulmate?

  • DGOS hits Old Trafford

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    Breakthrough Marketing Award

    DGOS hits

    Old Trafford

    City man motivated to
    be OP king in Manchester


    26 Jul 10 (Completed1700 GMT;1200ET)

    Darren Carr,the CEO of DG Office Supplies has just moved offices to Old Trafford, a stone’s throw away from Man United’s Theatre of Dreams stadium. Ironically, dynamo Darren is a Man Cityfan with his own dream of becoming the top Manchester merchant of business services...

  • ODgate Scandal - Kickback confusion

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    ODgate Scandal
    Big questions outstanding


    How will USC/HB Capital
    react? What are TCPN’s terms?


    25 Jul 10

    Office Depot’s decision to withdraw from US Communities (USC) $515m contract and announce plans to go direct or via “alternative co-op arrangements” raises serious questions about the integrity of current practices....

  • ODgate Scandal - California screaming

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    State dismisses Depot; 

    accepts bids for $35m contract
    from Staples and independents

    25 Jul 10

    In spite of Office Depot’s last ditch attempt to postpone the award of the $35m supplies contract, they have been thrown out kicking and screaming...

  • Penketh's pride and progress

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    Penketh_Mark_and_Karen_AbelBreakthrough Marketing Award

    Penketh’s pride
    and progress

    Karen Abel wins marketing
    award for the second time


    23 Jul 10 (Completed 1800 GMT; 1300 ET)
    of Liverpool, is one of the UK’s most progressive model resellers. They like many other specialists took a recessionary hit in furniture demand, but have invested in emarketing to drive its wider business supplies portfolio.


    We visited CEO Mark Penketh and his impressive marketing manager yesterday...mini-profile follows later today


  • Has BullSchmidt gone bonkers?

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    ODgate Scandal Breaking News

    Has BullSchmidt

    gone bonkers?

    Mass mailing to USC amounts to mass destruction of ethics


    23 Jul 10 (1500GMT; 1000 ET)

    Office Depot’sguilty behaviour is getting increasingly desperate and suicidal. We publish below the mass mailing they are sending to public agency customers who currently buy supplies through its largest customer group the $600m US Communities.

  • Despicable Depot disintegrating

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    Despicable Depot

    Files lawsuit v. Florida Attorney
    General...whistleblower’s reaction


     23 Jul 10

    Incredibly, guilt ridden Office Depot has filed a lawsuit seeking a protective order to prevent the further release of documents related to the Florida AG's investigation of the desperate company...

  • Depot's death rattle rattle rolls

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    Depot’s death
    rattle rolls...

    Whistleblower exposes Odland and Schmidt as frequent fraudsters


    21 Jul 10 (1200 ET; 1700 GMT)

    We have reflected again on the amazing revelations coming out of Office Depot’s grandstanding decision not bid for the $600m US Communities contract. Bizarrely, this is probably the first time we have witnessed transparency, albeit accidentally, from its corrupt chiefs...

  • Depot's death defying act

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    Depot’s death

    defying act?

    Surely TCPN will do due diligence on this last act of desperation?

    17 Jul 10

    You could not make this up! Faced with the loss of its uninterrupted 14 year old US Communities (USC) contract worth $600m in 2009, is Office Depot taking desperate steps to divert government agency customers to a competing buying organisation, TCPN?

  • Were US Communities duped by Office Depot?

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    ODgate Scandal - Breaking News!

    US Communities
    duped by Depot?

    Whistleblower Sherwin calls for
    transparency from LA County


    17 July 10
    In a frank re-evaluation, whistle-blower David Sherwin admits that it is possible that both U.S. Communities (USC) and contract negotiator LA County (LAC)may have been duped by Office Depot's fraudulent pricing schemes....

  • Our Specialist Services

    Proficiency Group
    Marketing Services


    'Productivity with Personality'

    Proficiency Groupwas founded by Peter Frost(pic right, contact details below) with a simple guiding vision to champion best practice by independent resellers and help them provide "Productivity with Personality" services to users in an immediate, eco-friendly way.

    We translate productivity as saving clients ‘time, money and space’; and personalized, as tailored and relevant services based on listening to the subject and creating individual personas.

    Screen Shot 2023 03 03 at 1.18.35 AMUsually, this means reaching beyond the buyer to the user-chooser. We nickname this person, Lucy, the typical decision maker for the majority of business supplies purchased. Lucy could be an executive in sales, marketing, HR, training, research, administrative, FM, finance, legal, secretarial or executive assistants or secretary.

    Successful Selling to ‘C level’ e.g. CFO/FD’s

    Coaching the reseller’s sales force how to focus selling skills on CFO/FD’s in cooperation with buyer contacts. Training in how to sell-in the productivity power of single source systems and managed services, from a local source, by cutting costs and carbon emissions. (See typical CFO/FD, Freddy Finance, centre right)

    Personalised Digital Marketing programmes.

    Personalised digital marketing campaigns....design and orchestrated marketing. One-to-One campaigns; and moment-to-moment emarketing campaigns to key user-choosers e.g.  FM's, FD's, CFO’s, executive PA’s, secretaries we characterise as Lucy (pic below right)
    Beyond-buyer-to-CFOBrilliant Brand Strategy & Creative Design services
    Current brand and strategic reviews. Brand name creation and logo design including powerful and memorable straplines. Launching strategic and PR campaigns to inspire management, employees to maximize effect on the marketplace.

    Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

    Coaching how to build an 'INTIMATE' database of user-chooser email contacts, e.g. typically 5-10 per customer account. Demonstrating how to create user chooser 'personas', to facilitate personalised communications: relevant promotions/information, with permission of user choosers e.g. Lucy (pic below right)

    How to measure share of potential spend by customer SIC code e.g. law firms, accountants. How to sell in the ‘gaps’ with personalised productivity focused e-mail promotions and information.

    frost-eco-expoInspirational training programmes.

    Packaged and tailored training focused in sales, marketing, leadership and management skills. We aim to provide interactive and personalised programmes that inspire action and maintain rapid progress towards agreed growth goals that maximise clients’ return on investment.

    Courses include: Selling to the CFO/FD; CRM; personalised digital marketing; passionate customer service; MCommerce webstore design; 'Ambassador drivers'; digital marketing management; consultative selling skills and sales leadership.

    lucy iphone coffeeTop Conference & Event management
    Tailored customer events, in addition to BREAKTHROUGHmarketing conferences held in the UK since 2005; 6 Rethink Pinkmarketing-to-women conferences held in London (UK), Florence & Verona (Italy) and Boston (US)
    The Proficiency Index

    The Reseller Index measures and reports the 6 dimensions of reseller performance. Metrics include: profitability, productivity, customer service, CRM, employee retention and marketability ratios.

    Please check out latest Proficiency Indexreports on productivity & what typical user chooser 'Lucy' wants and needs in business supply

    Annual surveys and reports include: BrandWatch and logo designs;WebWatch studies of resellers’ webstores inc. mobile webstores; and theFAME Index advertising campaign watch analysis.

    Market Research user studies

    Customer-EngagementLargeStudies include corporate, SMB, CX and SOHO business user-chooser behaviour plus reports. Spend trends and industry analysis. Merger and Acquisition feasibility studies/reports. The annual review of user-chooser buying trends, mainly businesswomen was first published in 2011 and is currently in its 20th survey edition 

    Best Practice Benchmarking.
    Case studies library of experience include financial/operating models for international manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and resellers. Past studies include 'HiPROLoco' high productivity, low cost distribution models; brand creation and launch; business planning/KPI models; single source and eco-productivity programmes>

    Clients using Proficiency Group Services
    In the UK (alpha order):

    • Innovative montage 2015Bluefish, Northampton
    • Cawthorne Business Supples, Nuneaton
    • Commercial Group, Cheltenham
    • Complete Business Solutions, Wakefield
    • Danwood Group, Lincoln
    • Egan Reid, Stockport
    • Image Direct, Hayes, Middlesex
    • Irongate Group, Derby
    • Langstane, Aberdeen, Scotland
    • Penketh's, Liverpool & Manchester (pic below right)
    • Spicers, Cambridgeshire
    • Westcoast, Reading
    • Whittakers, Loughboro
    • XMA, Nottingham

    In the US/Canada (alpha order)

    • BASICS Group. Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
    • penketh chris manchesterComplete Office, Seattle, WA
    • ECi Software Solutions, Fort Worth, TX
    • Essendant, Deerfield, IL
    • Garveys, Chicago, IL
    • HiTouch Business Services, Saddlebrook, NJ
    • Innovative, Minneapolis, MN (pic above right)
    • Independent Supplies Group, Indianapolis, IN
    • Kramer Leonard, Chesterton, IN
    • WBMason, Brockton. MA (pic right)
    • EMadill, Ladysmith, BC, Canada
    • Friends Business Resource, Findlay. OH
    • Mills Office Productivity, Vancouver, Canada
    • Monk Office, Victoria, BC, Canada
    • 3M, St.Paul, MN
    • Nickerson, Monroe, OH
    • Office Essentials, St.Louis, MO
    • Source O&T, Denver, CO
    • wbmason-montage2SPRichards, Atlanta, GA
    • S&T Office, St. Paul, MN
    • The Supply Room, Richmond, VA
    • United Stationers, Deerfield, IL
    • Weeks Lerman, New York.

    In Italy

    • Di Veroli of Rome
    • GBR Rossetto of Padua,
    • Karnak, San Marino

    Peter Frost may be contacted primarily on +1 857 208 3100 (US)
    or +44 7470 239247 (UK).
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Depot to decline US Communities?

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    Depot to decline

    US Communities?

    Depot’s diversionary tactics disguise plans for direct attack


    16 Jul 10
    Office Depot
    said it decided not to bid for a new Los Angeles County office supplies agreement (negotiator for US Communities contract) because of what it called "onerous" terms that would result in an operating loss....

  • Paperchase future with no Borders

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    Paperchase_store_frontPaperchase future with no Borders

    Borders sells stationer

    to reduce debt load


    14 Jul 10

    Paperchase, the stationery and greetings card retailer, has been purchased from its UK parent Borders by Primary Capital a private equity fund...

  • WebWatch Survey 2 - Tangled web designs

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    tangled_webProficiency Index 

    First Annual Web-watch

    Survey #2 Results

    web designs

    Self-serving stores miss
    user-choosers completely

    11 July 10
    We’ve just completed the second survey of resellers and must admit disappointment with the moderate results compared with Survey#1 last week. Local resellers have a huge natural advantage over the bigbox operators, but fail to exploit it....

  • Proficiency Index - 12 worst webstore practices

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    HP-to-own-brand1Proficiency Index

    Twelve worst
    webstore practices


    Disrespect, sad search and own 

    brand, spoil shopping experience



    9 July 10
    The Proficiency Index team has now reviewed 20 of the best known webstores in the UK/US OP marketplace. A few are beautiful experiences for users, but most are frustrating. Here are the most irritating practices...

  • What women really want

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    lucy-montageWhat women
    really want!

    Recent research helps brand
    owners meet their different needs


    4 Jul 10
    There continues to be a significant gender bias in the way we perceive brands, according to the results of recent research, which leaves many brand owners still figuring out how best to meet the needs of women.


    Resellers and manufacturers should heed this advice....

  • The wonder of webstores - Survey 1 Results

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    Ellison-Tony-shoplet-web-paProficiency Index

    New survey starts today
    The wonder 

    of web-stores
    First annual 10 point review 

    of best resellers’ web-stores

    4 July 10 (Updated 1800ET; 2300 GMT)
    Yes, it’s survey time again. Following last year’s hugely popular review of resellers’ brand and logo images, we now review web-stores against a 10 point criterion. We start with some of the recognised best e.g. Amazon/Shoplet and draw comparisons with progressive dealers and etailers...

  • California contract cancelled

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    Depot’s dirty delay tactics,
    leveraging lawyers again?


    13 Jul 10 (Updated 1900 GMT; 1400ET)
    We saw a press release earlier today confirming that the State of California was cancelling its RFP for a new office supplies contract. We wonder why?

  • Exclusive interview with Depot Whistleblower

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    ODgate Scandal -
    Exclusive Interview

    winning the war

    Sherwin committed to
    bring Depot to justice

    1 July 10

    Ex Office Depotsenior account manager turnedWhistle-blower David Sherwingave an exclusive interview with Proficiency Post earlier today. Real insights into the high profitability of the 14 year US Communities solus contract and the kickback commissions...

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