Croxley – Creating a future from the past

By Wright Communications

With traditional categories in decline, Croxley is re-directing its efforts toward non-traditional areas such as furniture (including school desks and chairs) and café supplies. It has also expanded its scholastic portfolio by adding an improved Art and Craft range and early education products. Croxley received positive feedback from customers by exhibiting a number of new agencies at the New Zealand Toy Fair in 2015.

To meet the demands of its expanding product range, Croxley has shifted its business model to focus on wholesaling.  This led to the difficult decision to close down the manufacturing part of its business, with its Avondale factory shutting in June.

David Lilburne, Managing Director of Croxley, says the fact Croxley withstood the test of time for over a century is testament to its ability to adapt to a constantly changing market. "We are creating a new future by building on what we have done in the past, albeit with a more radical approach in 2015."

The latest changes add to a string of strategic moves Croxley has made to keep expanding as it navigated its way through the systemic decline in the office products industry. In 2001, the acquisition of Nutech provided opportunities to extend its product offering to include printer hardware, inks and toner consumables. In 2009, the deregulation of the postal market created an opportunity for Croxley to become a New Zealand Post Access Partner and Croxley Mail was launched.

However, Lilburne says more was needed to keep the business moving ahead during a challenging time for what has traditionally been its core industry.

"We are not just trying to improve on what we have done before - we need to understand the key drivers that are shaping our industry and respond accordingly."

In order to understand these drivers, Croxley recently worked with the New Zealand Trade & Enterprise through its "Better by Design" programme, which has helped the company broaden its thinking as well as its product portfolio. One of the initiatives it undertook was to conduct a customer insights programme with a number of schools to gauge how they will manage the shift to modern learning environments (MLEs).

The research will help Croxley to grow its strong presence in the education market, including the iconic Warwick and Olympic brands that New Zealanders have grown up with and trust.

"We want to figure out what schools will need tomorrow; how are they maximising educational outcomes and making the best of limited resources with their funding restraints," Lilburne says. "Once we understand that we can formulate strategies on how to deliver what they need."

Another significant step for Croxley is investing in their E-Waste Recycling programme.

As New Zealand's biggest ink and toner recycler, Croxley developed the first Environmental Choice licenced e-waste recycling scheme in Australasia in conjunction with Environmental Choice New Zealand. Croxley has established a nationwide collection network of 1400 sites and will soon be announcing a major deal to boost its e-waste scheme.

But Lilburne says it's not just the products that are transforming, and that the culture of the organisation will also require a shift in thinking. With the closure of the Avondale factory, gone are the days when you could just walk down the back and ask to change the production schedule. So while the team will take time to adjust to the changes, they are on the right track. "The best ideas often come from the team closest to the coal face so it is important to incorporate them into a formal change programme" says Lilburne.

Investments in Sales and Operations planning (S&OP) and stock profiling at Croxley's two state-of-the-art Distribution Centres has improved efficiencies and delivery reliability. "With significant international infrastructure to draw on we are confident that we can research, source and distribute a broad range of products ideally suited to the New Zealand market," Lilburne says.

Lilburne is confident that the changes being made by the team at Croxley will be successful and that their stable of iconic brands will available in New Zealand for many years to come.


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