One of VOW’s key strategic objectives at the start of 2019 was to work more closely with both suppliers and dealers in order to drive collaboration, innovation and efficiency through the supply chain. After a challenging but positive year, the wholesaler chose its recent Green Light event to take the opportunity to recognise outstanding performance by giving out its annual awards.


The award to a Red Venture dealer went to Cosmos, an Office Friendly member who have been quick to adapt to the changing market and have grown consistently through working closely with VOW and their group.


In the Gold Venture category, The Office Works impressed through their long-term values-based strategy and their vibrant and energetic approach. They have embraced portfolio expansion and been particularly successful in selling added-value FS solutions.


The Diamond Venture category was won by Clares Office Supplies who through close collaboration with VOW have established themselves as experts in transformational procurement and supply chain excellence.


The Newcomer Award went to Aston and James who having already diversified their 25-year old business into furniture and workwear have now made great strides into the environmental and health & wellbeing categories, bringing together their own approach and VOW’s EVOlution CSR policy.


On the supplier side, Fellowes continued its recent run of success winning the Supplier of the Year for their consistently high level of engagement and collaboration at all levels of the VOW business. Their support of marketing initiatives, innovation into new product areas and consistently excellent service set them apart.


Proving that business supplies is now a highly diverse channel, the Product of the Year went to Nestle for their Starbucks Dolce Gusto Coffee Pods, which provide consumers with excellent tasting coffee, and resellers with an ongoing sales opportunity to support a popular office coffee machine.


The final award for Account Manager of the Year went to Paul Granby of Henkel. Paul was recognised for demonstrating a clear understanding of the changing needs of the business and for his consistent enthusiasm working with the marketing and merchandising teams to find new opportunities.


Marketing Director, Helen Wade says, “Historic trading patterns went out of the window this year because of all the uncertainty caused by Brexit. It’s been hard to know what to expect from week to week, let alone from month to month and in circumstances like those, many businesses have understandably chosen to batten down the hatches. But, some of our suppliers and customer partners have been absolutely incredible in pushing forward, and it was great to be able to recognise their performance with an Award.”


“We are really happy for all of the winners and offer them our heart-felt congratulations on their achievements. It’s fantastic to work with such enthusiastic and forward-thinking partners and we are moving into 2020 with great optimism.”

Six of the Best at the BOSS Awards

Six of the Best at the BOSS Awards


The BOSS Industry Awards Dinner, held at the Tower Hotel alongside Tower Bridge, London, was a glittering occasion attended by around 400 professionals from every part of the office products industry.


Hosted by TV, Radio and stand-up comic, Lucy Porter, the event is one of the highlights of the industry calendar, with excellent networking, entertainment and a fine meal, but everything leads to the climax of the evening, a series of awards presented to wholesalers, dealers, manufacturers and brand owners.


The awards recognise excellence in all areas and are the highest accolades presented in the UK.


VOW was delighted to be shortlisted as finalists in the Initiative of the Year for their Transport Management System, which is improving visibility and efficiency whilst at the same time, reducing emissions and fuel usage. A second place on the finalist list came in the Publication of the Year for its mainline catalogue.


However, it was in the individual awards that VOW shone with six team members winning.


The award for Professional of the Year went to VOW Marketing Director, Helen Wade who was recognised for a year of outstanding success. Helen has overseen the strategic rebranding of the company as a specialist wholesaler and has repositioned the industry-leading Green Light event, making it a must-attend conference for reseller sales teams. In addition, she had driven the highly successful Whiteout and Heatwave incentive schemes and driven a complete overhaul of the MyMarketing Platform.


It’s also been quite a year for VOW Product Marketing Manager, Scott Castle. After winning the Young Professional of the Year at the EOPA Awards back in March, Scott has now added the BOSS Emerging Professional of the Year Award. Scott was commended by the judges for his work in developing the VOW AdVenture incentive campaign which delivered outstanding results for VOW and participating suppliers. Scott was also recognised for his role in supporting the establishment of the BOSS Leaders of the Future group, of which he will shortly be taking over the Chair from Emily Jones.


Steve Blowers has spent 30 years in Wholesaling, with Neville and Gladstone, John Heath, Kingfield Heath and ultimately VOW. From sales roles to branch management, to Senior Management Team and Board, Steve, who now is Director of Dealer Groups has been a constant in the evolution of VOW into its current position as the clear number one wholesaler in the channel. Steve was recognised by the BOSS Federation with an Unsung Hero Award.


Also receiving Unsung Hero Awards were three other VOW team members.


Matthew Allen was singled out for his great contribution to the VOW Commercial Team where his development of the analytical tools has allowed VOW to manage its sales, margins and cost to serve more effectively. The judges agreed that through his attitude, aptitude and excellent achievements, Matthew was deserving of the wider recognition of the industry.


Rebecca Brook, VOW Head of Inventory was recognised for the excellent work that she has done in managing a team of 17 people, with responsibility for controlling the ordering and intake of goods from suppliers and sustaining a high level of customer fill rate and availability. The judges identified that Rebecca has an excellent attitude and leads by example to encourage, develop and guide her team.


Finally, Sarah Whale, VOW Service Improvement Manager was awarded her Unsung Hero Award for her work in the implementation of VOWs Customer Self-Service Portal and her obsession with putting her customers first. The judges recognised her dogged determination and tenacity along with her ability to change mindsets, attitudes and outlooks in order to drive continuous improvements.


Helen Wade, Marketing Director said, “It was an incredible night and amazing to see so many of the VOW team being recognised. For me personally it was a great thrill to win and I felt proud and humbled to go up and collect my award. It may sound like a cliché, but it is true, that there are lots of people whose support contributes to this, and I want to thank all of them. I also want to offer massive congratulations to Scott, Steve, Matthew, Rebecca and Sarah for their awards. We’ve put a huge focus on our supply chain relationships and these awards clearly show that our approach is delivering results.”


VOW take awards very seriously…

Helen Wade, Marketing Director says, “We believe that there are huge benefits to entering awards. Simply going through the process of putting submissions together can really bring home to people the amazing work that they have done and the advances that they have made. It’s great motivation and builds self-esteem and can go a long way in earning the appreciation of colleagues. To be shortlisted gives a great buzz and to win is just fantastic recognition. There’s loads of good PR to be had on social media, locally and throughout the industry and of course, when talking to customers, suppliers and prospects it’s great to point to the acknowledgement of excellence that has been given to you.”

VOW has had an outstanding year on the awards front with recognition for the company and various individuals at EOPA, The BOSS Industry Awards, ECMOD, The CRN Channel Awards, The Sheffield Business Awards, The Northern E-Commerce Awards and the Stationers Company Awards.


But now, with the season of goodwill upon us, it is the turn of the UK’s leading business supplies wholesaler to give rather than receive. At its forthcoming Green Light at the Chateau Impney, Bromsgrove on December 5th, VOW will be announcing the winners of its own awards, which are presented to dealers, suppliers and account managers.


In anticipation of this, the shortlists for the categories have been announced and they are:


Dealer awards for outstanding sales performance, commitment and engagement


Diamond Venture Reseller of the Year

Clares Office Supplies


ACS Business Supplies


Gold Venture Reseller of the Year

The Office Works

Peter Handley Stationery

Compleat Office Solutions


Red Venture Reseller of the Year


Cosmos Office Supplies

Cleartask Ltd


Newcomer Award

Imagine Office Supplies

Aston and James





Supplier awards for outstanding service, innovation and support


Supplier of the Year

Pukka Pads




Account Manager of the Year

Zoe Brooks – Café Direct

Steve Robinson – Safescan

Paul Granby – Henkel


Product of the Year

Jabra – Panacast

Colop – e-Mark

Nestle – Starbucks Dolce Gusto Pods


Helen Wade concludes, “Our awards are to show our genuine appreciation for the fantastic support we get from suppliers and customers. This year’s shortlist features some outstanding businesses and we are grateful to them all. I’m delighted on behalf of us all at VOW to congratulate those who have made these shortlists and wish good luck to everyone for the final judging.”

World Mental Health Day

VOW Wholesale Supports World Mental Health Day

VOW Wholesale recognises the importance of supporting initiatives to improve people lives and in support of World Mental Health Day (10th October) VOW interviews one of their own inspiring volunteers:

How volunteering with the Samaritans changes lives.

VOW’s Head of Commercial, Becky Shelton’s job is not without challenges, but being keen to learn new skills and to make a difference in her community led her to a new challenge that has been truly life changing.

Becky explains, “I had a couple of significant conversations, one with a homeless guy and one with a friend who had lost someone to suicide. I realised that just by being there to listen and not trying to offer solutions, I was helping people. A little while later a random newspaper article pointed me in the direction of the Samaritans, and I was hooked!


VOW’s Head of Commercial, Becky Shelton
VOW’s Head of Commercial, Becky Shelton

Becky now spends 3-4 hours a week as a Listening Volunteer in her local branch, taking phone calls and answering emails or texts from people in emotional crisis or despair. They come from people from all types of backgrounds and all walks of life, rich and poor, young and old, employed and unemployed, all united by their need to talk to someone about their problems.

Some are suicidal, others have long term mental health problems, are in crisis over debt, relationships, school or work pressures.  Whatever their situation, all are treated with kindness and consideration, in a non-judgmental way.

Callers to the Samaritans are often confused or distressed, isolated and in desperate need of someone to talk to. Becky explains, “We respect that someone might want to end their life, and if that is the case, we help them to fully understand their reasoning and thoughts. We never offer advice, but through gentle, open questions, we help the caller to order their thoughts and hopefully to see a way forward. Our aim is that, through talking about their deepest feelings they may feel they can carry on with life.  And, of course everything we hear is confidential to Samaritans so we can’t talk about it outside of the branch.”

Helping people who have found themselves in despair is tremendously rewarding, knowing that you could have made the difference to someone who was considering taking their own life is very emotional. Just to be trusted by people who will reveal their deepest and darkest thoughts is an amazing privilege.”

As well as being a Listening Volunteer, Becky is part of her branch fundraising and outreach team, which involves applying for grant funding, supporting community projects and even standing in Asda on a Saturday morning handing out information. She says that the organisation is desperate for support volunteers to help with fundraising, outreach, school liaison, training, recruitment, administration, IT and even odd jobs, as well as for listening positions.

Full training is provided to Listening Volunteers who go through a selection process, intensive induction training and 6-8 months of pairing with a mentor, with ongoing training afterwards.

If you think you could help, please have a look at the Samaritans website.

If you are struggling, Becky suggests that the best thing you can do is to talk to someone. If your workplace has Mental Health First Aiders then try them, or a trusted family member or friend. If you feel that you don’t want to burden someone you know, so please call Samaritans on 116123 or email jo@samaritans.org.

If you are worried about someone you know, then the Samaritans website has lots of information to help you approach them in a supportive way. Knowing that someone cares enough to listen can make an enormous difference to people who are struggling.

Becky concludes, “It feels a bit strange still to say that I love being a Samaritan, but it’s one of the biggest achievements in my life, and I’m very proud to say that I am really making a difference for some people. I would definitely encourage others to volunteer too.



VOW Marketing Director, Helen Wade says that the wholesaler’s dealer first strategy is paying dividends with the approach being recognised in a series of award announcements. The company and its staff have been shortlisted in five categories at the upcoming BOSS Industry Awards and a further two at the prestigious Sheffield Business Awards.


VOW’s strategy is to improve the experience that dealers have of VOW, to create opportunities for dealers to sell more, and to deliver the innovation that dealers need to operate successfully. Evidence of these ambitions can be found in the breadth of categories covered by the nominations.

For the BOSS Awards, the Initiative of the Year submission was based upon VOW’s new Transport Management System, the result of a £750k investment designed to boost their commitment to environmental sustainability whilst creating new levels of ease and efficiency in its deliveries across the UK and Ireland network.

In the e-Business category, the Post Office Shop, developed and operated by VOW’s retail division has had a very successful year, driving year-on-year sales growth, gaining new customers, improving the retention of existing customers and delivering platform developments to aid customer navigation, digital search footprint and user experience across the desktop/mobile interfaces. These advancements during 2019 saw the Post Office Shop appear in the IRUK list of the Top 150 UK online retailers for the first time.

VOW’s catalogue is the prime selling tool for many of its resellers, and at a time when the use of paper catalogues is frequently questioned, this year it was snapped up in unprecedented numbers. Over 350,000 copies were distributed, underlining its importance to them, and with almost 1,000 pages and the addition of more than 3,000 new products, it’s bigger and better than ever. The catalogue has been shortlisted as Publication of the Year.

Whilst VOW is keen to point out that its success this year has been down to an outstanding team effort across the business, there has also been personal recognition from the BOSS Federation judging panels for a couple of individuals who have driven the success.

Marketing Director, Helen Wade and Product Marketing Manager, Scott Castle have both made the final short list for the Professional and Emerging Professional of the Year for their outstanding contributions to the success of VOW’s marketing initiatives during 2019.

At the Sheffield. Business Awards, Vow are finalists in the category of Large Business of the Year, an award which they won last year.

In addition, the VOW team were particularly delighted to have been shortlisted in the category of Excellence in Corporate, Social and Environmental Responsibility. Their entry was based upon the EVOlution program that has seen the Company invest in reducing emissions, packaging and energy usage, while focusing on raising standards in the supply chain, improving wellbeing and the environment for its staff and the wider community.

Helen Wade says: “We are delighted to be short listed in these seven categories and we’re massively encouraged that the initiatives that we have been driving are being recognised and valued. We’ll continue to be looking at ways to evolve and improve our portfolio and our service offering. If our efforts as individuals and a team are recognised, then that’s the icing on the cake.

GreenLightEvent - 2019


Registration for the eagerly anticipated VOW Wholesale Green Light 2019 Industry Expo is now open, and dealers wishing to attend may reserve their places via a new dedicated website, www.greenlightevent.com.

After a decade during which Green Light has consistently grown in scale and popularity, Chateau Impney Hotel and Exhibition Centre in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire will host this year’s event. With the organisers determined to ensure that Green Light remains relevant, there is a shift in emphasis to direct the content towards salespeople, with a dedicated ‘speaker zone’ for key sales speakers who will be announced shortly.


As usual delegates will also have the opportunity to meet with an estimated 70 key suppliers, to get a first look at the 2020 new products, to learn the best way to present them, to hear about their promotional programmes and how they can work together with suppliers and resellers to grow sales.


The shift in emphasis has been received very positively by VOW Wholesale customers and it is anticipated that attendance this year could be as much as 30% higher than in previous years.


Marketing Director Helen Wade says, “We had phenomenal feedback from the 2018 Green Light and we are incredibly excited for this year’s event. The increased focus on the sales teams and giving them hints and tips that can be implemented in their roles literally the next day, has been really well received by everyone. We’re looking forward to a record attendance and another outstanding event, and we recommend that people register via the website as early as possible to guarantee their places.”

Banner are offering Apprenticeships

When James joined Banner on an apprenticeship as a 17-year-old school leaver, he had minimal workplace experience. Three years on, James has developed a wide range of skills, gained qualifications and is now one of our full time sales support administrators.

James has learned from supportive colleagues who have helped him to develop in his role, learn all about our business and grow in confidence.

With Banner you’re supported and empowered to take on new opportunities and work towards valuable qualifications. This means James is being fully supported as he studies towards levels one, two and three of an NVQ in Administration.


Banner works with local colleges to give both short and longer term placements to students.

Work experience at Banner helps people discover their strengths through working in a range of admin roles and deciding where their futures may lie. We let people have week and month long ‘taster’ experiences of the different areas of business admin so they’re able to decide where they want to take their careers.

Wherever our people are at in their careers, there’s always the opportunity to learn something new. With Banner you can build new skills and pursue new qualifications.

We have colleagues taking NVQs in Management and in Business Administration, and when our people switch between departments, they’re able to study whatever they need to, to help them in their new role. So if you move from sales to admin, it’s likely you’ll take an NVQ or similar qualification to give you the head start you need.


  • James got a chance to gain work experience
  • He has developed a wide range of skills
  • Banner has around 33 apprentices within the business currently who they are helping

Banner Celebrates National Stationery Week

Banner celebrates National Stationery Week #WritingMatters

National Stationery Week is here and, at Banner, we are celebrating the week by giving away five stationery bundles, to recognise the importance and benefits of hand writing. #WritingMatters.

National Stationery week

National Stationery week is here from 29th April to the 5th May so fill your pencil cases, sharpen your pencils, grab a clean sheet of paper and get ready to celebrate.

For this week it’s time to get creative and colourful with your favourite pens and pencils to celebrate, and with so many different varieties of stationery you can be as outlandish, stylish or bold as you want by getting creative with colour and celebrating your stationery.

Why is writing by hand so important?
Today we are surrounded by technology, in a day and age where every letter is at our finger tips with the press of a button – why should we use pens and paper. We are constantly being warned that due to the excessive use of technology simple things like learning to write as a child is becoming harder with paediatric doctors warning children are finding it hard to even hold a pencil.

However, during a study at the Guardian’s roundtable event on 27th February, the people involved chose to use the classic pen and paper instead of a laptop, this is most likely due to the idea that in a group situation using a laptop to type would have been considered rude on a social standard.
Writing is a key part in our development as children cannot fully contemplate the world without creating a mental image of it, which is why teachers encourage you to draw in the sand or water when you are in primary school as it embeds in your mind – Naveed Idress of Feversham Primary Academy stated: “You never know what an A is unless you’ve physically drawn it.”

This is why writing is so important in our lives, as without it we wouldn’t necessarily know how to spell or read, because on programs such as Word it will always correct your Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar.

So, pick up a pen or pencil and be creative!

Find out more
If you ‘d like to know more about what Banner are up to? Subscribe to our blog to get regular updates.

Entry terms and conditions: Entry is open to residents of the UK except employees (and their families) of EVO Group Ltd. Entrant(s) must be aged 18 or over. One entry per person. Proof of identity and age may be required. Use of a false name or address will result in disqualification. Entries that are incomplete, illegible or indecipherable will not be valid and deemed void. All entries must be made directly by the person entering the competition. Entries made online using methods generated by a script, macro or the use of automated devices will be void. No responsibility can be accepted for entries lost, damaged or delayed in the post, or due to computer error in transit. Participants will be entered into the draw to win a stationery bundle. The prize is as stated, is not transferable to another individual and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The draw will be independently supervised. The winner agrees for their name, job title and company to be published on our website www.Banneruk.com and on Banner’s social media channels (LinkedIn and Twitter). The winner is responsible for any tax liability which may arise from receipt of a prize. Your entry into the prize draw will be taken as confirmation of your full agreement to these terms and conditions. Entry closes: 05/05/19.

Eco friendly packaging

In a bid to reduce single-use plastics by 30% before 2020 across our business, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve introduced Eco-friendly packaging throughout our warehouses, for small pick parcels.


At Banner, we deliver an impressive 6,000 small pick parcels a week, that’s around 30,000 a month and 312,000 per year! We’re proud that these parcels now contain a cushion of recycled cardboard instead of harmful plastics.

Reducing our impact on the environment
By recycling our used or damaged cardboard boxes into shock absorbent netted material, for use as void fill instead of plastic, we’re now shredding and recycling over 360 tonnes of cardboard per year; that’s equivalent to around the weight of 72 Asian Elephants! This new initiative will reduce our impact on the environment and the amount of waste produced.

What our customers have to say
The eco-friendly packaging launched this year, following a successful pilot initiative, with customer feedback showing just how important recycling is to our customers.

Over 93% of customers, who took part in our pilot, were either satisfied or very satisfied with the new packaging. 80% of customers said they always recycle packaging from their deliveries and 94% said recycling is extremely important to them.

Not only will this reduce Banners carbon footprint but also our customers too, because it’s easier to recycle and dispose of.

Commitment to CSR
Craig Varey, Managing Director at Banner says: “Driving down the use of single-use plastics within Banner is a big focus for us because we recognise the impact single-use plastic has on the environment.

We are committed to the delivery of our CSR strategy and operate across four key pillars, which cover; Our Natural Environment, Our Supply Chain, Our Communities and Our People. This year we’re expanding on the investments and commitments that we have already been making for several years now.”

Sustainable products from Banner

With Banner you can meet not only your operational and efficiency targets, but also your environmental ones with our range of sustainable products. From hot drink cups and lids to water cups and cutlery, Banner’s range of PLA (Polylactic Acid) products naturally degrade when exposed to the environment.

EVO Group Launch New CSR Initiative, EVOLUTION

The EVO Group of Companies has launched its brand new initiative intending to further establish the companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility guidelines and key areas of focus for ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance).


Named EVOLUTION, this new framework incorporates four pillars which the company has set individual and group targets for.

These are:

  • Our People – Wellbeing & Workplace
  • Our Natural Environment – Preserve & Protect
  • Our Communities – Respect & Reputation
  • Our Supply Chain – Trust & Transparency

Whilst setting these pillars, The EVO Group of Companies will be renewing their focus towards a strong commitment towards charity and the wider community.

The company have set an initial target for staff to complete 3,000 hours of charity work outside of regular working hours and are increasing the number of training hours undertaken by current staff in order to further drive engagement and participation in the EVOLUTION initiative.

To track this year’s progress achieved with EVOLUTION, The EVO Group of Companies will be using foundations which were set in 2018 to measure against and will be producing an annual report which adheres to General Reporting Initiative (GRI) internationally recognised standards.

EVOLUTION Group Targets

Throughout the course of 2019, The EVO Group of Companies have set a number of core group targets that they aim to draw clear attention to. Set alongside four categories (Our People, Our Natural Environment, Our Communities and Our Supply Chain), these include:

Our People

  • Increasing the number of training hours by 25%
  • Investing a minimum of £200k in training for staff

Our Natural Environment

  • A reduction of 30% on electricity and gas consumption by 2022
  • Reducing water consumption by 10% by the year 2022.
  • A commitment to reduce the consumption and use of single use plastics by 30% by 2020.
  • Maintaining a stance on zero waste being sent to landfill.
  • An overall reduction of waste by 2022 of 20%
  • Increasing biodiversity across all EVO Group sites
  • Reducing the production of greenhouse gases by 20% by the year 2022

Our Communities

  • A group commitment to donate 3,000 charity hours towards helping not-for-profit organisations during 2019.
  • An overall increase in both monetary and non-monetary donations towards charitable causes by 20% during 2019.

Our Supply Chain

  • Establishing a comprehensive database on the credentials of EVO Group’s entire product range and supplier base by 2021
  • An increase of double on the number of environmental and accredited product ranges that EVO Group offers, also by 2021.

By following new standards set by the EVOLUTION initiative, the EVO Group of Companies will strive to continue evolving the market and driving forward wholesale change.

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