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.


With faster and more frequent product introduction, new category portfolios and the need to be optimise value through the distribution channel, a ruthless mindset is required to make sure warehouse space is being used for the right products.

Commercial, working with VOW Wholesale as their distribution partner, recently identified approximately 30 pallets of products that they wished to clear from the Arrow Distribution Centre. Previously, this might have been sent to landfill, but that is no longer an acceptable solution, particularly for companies like VOW and Commercial that put the environment and sustainability at the heart of their values and CSR policies.

Claire Reay, VOW Account Director, agreed with Commercial to share the products, which included washroom supplies like toilet rolls and hand towels, amongst a number of worthwhile local organisations. With the support of colleagues, products were consolidated, distributed, and in some cases, personally carried and delivered to eight very grateful charities, hospices, schools and community clubs in the Leeds and Wakefield area.

Claire was quick to recognise the generosity of Commercial and the hard work and determination of her colleagues who had helped to make this happen. “We are so glad that through the kindness of Commercial and the efforts of the VOW team, especially John McTigue, Jacqui Foster, Dan Rogers and Milan Harper, we have been able to make a positive contribution to good causes in the area. The letters of thanks that we have received are absolutely heart-warming. It’s great to know that we’ve been able to make a difference and that our efforts have been appreciated.”

Vow Wholesale


VOW Wholesale has announced plans for its eagerly-awaited Mid-Year Dealer Event – a chance for its partners to review the year so far and look ahead to the company’s next wave of marketing initiatives to support the reseller channel.

VOW’s Diamond and Gold Venture customers – those signed up to its partner accreditation programme – will converge on Whittlebury Hall Hotel & Spa in Northamptonshire on July 4.


“There’s always a great atmosphere at the mid-year event, it’ll be great to take advantage of the golf and spa facilities and catch up with industry insights, opinions and gossip over dinner,” explained VOW Wholesale Marketing Director Helen Wade. “We’re also looking forward to unveiling full details of our 2020 Marketing Guide, which has been honed and updated to help our dealer network develop their sales and reach new customers.


“I don’t want to give too much away yet, but it’s fair to say that the overhaul of the guide has been designed to reflect the changing needs of dealers in this fast-moving market. There’ll be some exciting additions to our range of mailers and a refreshed emphasis on social media and digital activity through our MyMarketing portal and VOWDigicat online ordering tool.”


A cornerstone of the 2020 marketing guide will be the VOW Wholesale main catalogue, which continues to go from strength to strength. The 2019 version was a record-breaker – launching 3,000 new products and getting snapped up dealers through an unprecedented 350,000 initial orders.

Wholesaler VOW Re-affirms Commitment to Putting Re-sellers at Core of It's Business By Appointing New Board

VOW has reaffirmed its commitment to a strategy based on putting resellers at the core of its business by appointing a new board to maximise delivery.

VOW has reaffirmed its commitment to a strategy based on putting resellers at the core of its business by appointing a new board to maximise delivery.

Announcing the new leadership team, Adrian Butler, managing director of the UK’s largest business products and facilities supplies wholesaler, part of the EVO group of companies, said its formation was a “hugely significant development for our organisation”. He added that the new board brought “real focus, expertise and experience” to the company.

In addition to Adrian, the board’s members are: Lisa Hainsworth (sales operations director); Andrew Stacey (merchandising and marketing director); Martin Weedall (operations director); Thomas Barber (commercial director); Nikki Todd (customer experience director); and Cheryl Lamont (managing director of VOW’s managed services division).

Lisa has two decades’ experience in the business supplies industry and has joined VOW from global technology company Xerox, where she worked for three years as European sales operations director.

Andrew, who has been in the industry since 1989, has held several roles within EVO, latterly that of group merchandising and marketing director. He will now focus fully on driving VOW’s evolving product and customer proposition.

Martin, who has over 27 years’ industry experience, has held a series of senior positions within VOW’s operations, running regional depots across the country before most recently having a more customer-facing role as national sales director. VOW believes Martin’s strong understanding of operations and customer needs will play a key part in ensuring its service proposition fully meets resellers’ requirements.

Thomas, a chartered accountant, was latterly head of commercial finance with the EVO group. His new role will be complemented by that of new marketing director Helen Wade, who will assist resellers to drive and promote their businesses effectively.

Nikki, whose industry career began in 1990, was previously director of VOW’s fulfilment channel – encompassing services for national and online resellers, IT resellers and contract stationers. In her new post, Nikki will focus fully on VOW’s end-to-end customer proposition, by simplifying processes and making resellers’ lives easier.

Cheryl, who has worked in the business supplies sector since 1997, will head VOW’s managed services division, a fully outsourced service proposition. She will ensure its customer proposition is in line with reseller needs.

VOW announced late last year that its strategy was based on becoming a world-class wholesaler. It said it would achieve this by improving resellers’ experience of the organisation, creating opportunities to sell more products and being easier to deal with through innovation.  

Commenting on the new VOW board, Adrian said: “We’re really excited about this hugely significant development for our organisation. This new leadership team brings real focus, expertise and experience, which strengthen VOW considerably and puts us in an even better position to deliver on our strategy, ensuring we continue to concentrate completely on our customers’ needs.

“The VOW board now has complete autonomy in the day-to-day running of the company.”

Adrian explained the reason for this empowerment was that EVO understood its separate businesses knew their customers best and in the modern marketplace, needed to make decisions and respond to their needs quickly.    

Looking forward, Adrian said: “The appointment of the new board will lead directly to many important initiatives in the months ahead, as the directors all have their own joined-up plans – the changes they want to introduce which will bring us even closer to resellers. These projects will include streamlining our organisation in some key aspects, improving our speed of response and introducing ground-breaking customer service innovations.

“A good example of these changes will be the new sales structure, which we’ll announce shortly.”

VOW Appoints Experienced Specialist As It Expands Highly Successful Furniture Range

VOW has boosted a rapidly-growing area of its business by appointing Jenny Hipkiss to the newly-created role of furniture business development manager for the south of England.

The UK and Ireland’s largest business products and facilities supplies wholesaler, part of the EVO group of companies, has recruited Jenny as a new selection of steel items becomes available within its First range of office furniture.  

Jenny, who has over 10 years’ industry experience, has joined VOW from business furniture manufacturer Senator. She previously worked for office furniture manufacturer Lee & Plumpton, ergonomic furniture and equipment specialist Posturite, and office supplies and solutions distributor Lyreco.  

In her new role, Jenny will work with resellers, assisting them to grow their furniture sales with VOW. She has joined the company’s furniture experts, who include northern furniture business development manager Matt Allaby, plus internal sales, commercial support, product marketing, customer service and technical support specialists.

Reacting to her appointment, Jenny said: “I couldn’t see a better time to join VOW’s growing furniture team and I’m excited to now be part of it. Over the last 12 months, the company has invested heavily in this area and is clearly very serious about offering its resellers an unbeatable proposition. 

“This is backed up by the largest furniture stock holding in the wholesale market and an extremely reliable next day service, with a uniquely late 4.30pm cut-off time. First range, in particular, which provides an unequalled combination of quality and value, presents a massive opportunity for our resellers to increase their sales.” 

Explaining Jenny’s arrival, Vanessa Warne, VOW’s furniture category director, said growing sales and interest in the range meant an additional specialist of her type was essential.

Vanessa said: “Jenny’s history set her apart as a candidate for this role. She brings excellent understanding of the reseller market and great experience of working with end-users, from design brief to installation. She’s delivered projects in excess of £100,000, most recently a seven-storey office block at Bristol Law School.

“She’s incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about interiors and her personality makes her a great fit with our business.”    

The new Talos range of steel products under the First range umbrella includes tambours, cupboards, pedestals and filing cabinets available in various colours and come with integral locking to ensure personal security and component warranties between five to seven years.

Vanessa said: “We previewed the new steel items at First range’s southern launch and our Green Light event late last year and the feedback from the resellers attending was fantastic. The items offer great quality and price points that provide resellers with genuine competitive advantages over the rest of the market.”   

VOW announced in November that First range had recorded month-on-month sales growth averaging 25 per cent since its launch six months earlier. With the arrival of the steel items, First range now contains over 200 products and includes storage and seating suitable for multiple office environments, plus furniture for reception, bistro and breakout areas.

VOW’s overall next day furniture offering now contains over 1,400 items.

First range’s expansion comes as VOW launches its latest, extended quarterly Mega Deals furniture mailer. This is available free to resellers – who can customise it with their own pricing and branding – via MyMarketing, the company’s portal offering them an innovative email marketing solution and a comprehensive print module.

Leading Wholesaler VOW And Dealer Group Integra Present Major Charity With £3,000

Leading business products and facilities supplies wholesaler VOW and dealer group Integra Business Solutions have presented major charity Cancer Research UK with £3,000.

VOW, part of the EVO Group, raised funds during a six-month campaign promoting its exclusive brands to Integra members, marking the dealer group’s 20th anniversary, whilst    Integra organised a charity raffle and auction.   

The wholesaler’s campaign included raising funds at its exhibition stand during Integra’s national conference, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon. There, Integra’s gala dinner saw the charity raffle bring-in an additional £2,000 and former England footballer and manager Kevin Keegan auctioning a signed shirt, raising £550.

Andrew Tsierkezou, VOW dealer group director, said: “We’re extremely grateful to Integra’s big-hearted members and key partners, who have given so generously to a great cause.”

Providing Integra’s reaction to the fundraising, Aidan McDonough, chief executive officer, said: “I would like to personally thank all of our members and key partners who attended our national conference and who donated to this fantastic cause. Thank-you also to VOW for organising its campaign to help support us in our 20th year and helping us to support Cancer Research UK.”

Cancer Research UK is the world’s largest independent research charity for the disease. It conducts investigations into the illness’s prevention, diagnosis and treatment in institutes, universities and hospitals across the UK. These are undertaken both by its own employees and grant-funded researchers.

The organisation also provides information about cancer and runs campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the disease and influencing public policy. Cancer Research UK’s work is almost entirely funded by the public. It raises money through donations, legacies, community fundraising, events, and retail or corporate partnerships. The charity has about 4,000 employees and over 40,000 regular volunteers.     

VOW now has 10 exclusive brands, containing products for workplaces and spanning all its product categories. These cover cleaning supplies, secure packaging and mailing solutions, till and machine rolls, catering essentials, office furniture, technology essentials, drywipe markers and highlighters, notebooks, storage solutions and ergonomic products.

The brands, year-on-year sales of which rose by 40 per cent in the first six months of 2017, comprise not only offerings unavailable from other wholesalers but for which there is often no real alternative elsewhere in VOW’s product range too.