Rebecca Price talks to…Paul Davenport
Rebecca Price: Hi, Paul. Can you start by telling me your job title and briefly what you do?
Paul Davenport: Hi, Rebecca. I’m officially the Sales Director, but I also have responsibility for Purchasing. I manage the Sales team, I source new products and negotiate with suppliers, and I make sure we’re always offering our customers the best value and the biggest choice of packaging in the business.
Rebecca: You’ve been at Davpack quite a while now, haven’t you?
Paul: Well, my father started the company in 1968 and I joined straight from school, when I was just 15. I’ve literally spent my whole working life here!
Rebecca: I imagine things have changed a bit in that time.
Paul: You’re not kidding! When we started, we mainly made paper bags. Now we’re part of a global corporation called TAKKT and sell everything from cardboard boxes and polythene bags to warehouse racking and paper clips.
Rebecca: How has 2014 been for you?
Paul: It’s been very busy – as usual! We’ve introduced literally thousands of new items to the range this year, mainly through our newly expanded Office & Stationery and Facilities Management sections. So I’ve spent a lot of time meeting with and negotiating with suppliers, making sure we get the best deals so we can make sure our customers get the best deals as well. And we’ve also been working out ways of offering even more box sizes, by looking at the way we manufacture them in-house.
Rebecca: There must be a point where there’s nothing left to add – where we’re already offering everything there is that can go under the heading of ‘Packaging’?
Paul: It feels like it sometimes! But it’s amazing how we keep managing to find and develop new ways of packaging better – more effective ways of protecting fragile items, faster ways of packing them, cheaper ways of doing things! We’re all about giving our customers the best choice, so that they know that when they come to Davpack, they have the best chance of getting the right packaging product for their business or their product, delivered quickly and at a fair price.
Rebecca: Have you noticed any trends in the way customers are behaving this year?
Paul: I think there’s a couple of things, and they’re both to do with making the best use of space.
Firstly, we’re still seeing the effects of the Royal Mail’s changes to how they charge for parcels. With the huge jump in the cost of sending a small parcel as opposed to a large letter, and the even bigger rise if you go into medium parcel territory, people who sell mail order have had to become a lot smarter about the size of the parcels they’re using. That means they want to get as near to the size they actually need as possible – and us having what we think is the biggest range of postal boxes available online in the country certainly helps them in that.
Secondly, people are needing to make better use of the space they have at their premises. Bubble wrap and packing peanuts are still big sellers, but they can take up huge amounts of space. We’re seeing things like air cushion packaging getting much more popular, because you don’t have to put the air in until you need it. That makes it much easier to store and, as we worked out previously, it also works out a lot cheaper to use as well.
Rebecca: How do you see 2015 shaping up?
Paul: I think one thing we might see more of is people trying to find new ways of getting their orders out quicker. If you sell online, as we do, you quickly notice that people’s expectations of speed of delivery are getting tougher all the time. People are now expecting next day delivery as standard and anything you can do to give yourself a better chance of doing that can only help.
So, I think we’ll be seeing more products like crash lock, or pop-up, boxes – those are the ones where the base of the box takes shape as you unfold the flat pack, and then holds in place without the need for tape. We ran a test – you can see the video on YouTube! – and discovered just how much quicker it can be to pack and seal one of them as opposed to a standard carton.
Then there are things like perforated bubble wrap, strapping tape and our new Rapid Build Wine Boxes, with built-in dividers, all of which have been designed to help our customers pack their own orders more quickly.
The other main thing I can see for 2015 at the moment, although it doesn’t have anything to do with packaging, is that Derby County stand a very good chance of getting promoted to the Premier League!
Rebecca: Well, I’m a Forest fan, so perhaps we’d better not get into that! Thanks for your time, today, Paul.