Sector must move beyond paper to meet sustainability demands and counter digital creep
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, August 15, 2022/ — The future is bright for the Middle East & Africa’s stationery market, with a new report predicting the sector will achieve annual growth of 3.2 percent over the next six years to reach a regional record worth of US $12.93 billion.
The report, by event knowledge partner 6Wresearch, makes for optimistic reading but points to shifts needed if the sector is to reach its full potential with the sustainability of products and supplies a key growth factor.
The Middle East will be the region’s strongest performer at a predicted annual 4.3 percent growth, with the UAE and Saudi Arabia being the main driving forces, while Africa’s forecasted 3.1 percent annual growth will be largely propelled by South Africa and Nigeria.
Investment in education is expected to account for two-thirds of the growth, with the remainder attributed to office investment. Growing literacy and the spread of education are pushing the sector forward, but an accelerated adoption of digitalisation could hinder progress. It’s a factor that sector players are advised to heed in forward strategies.
“There is an opportunity for growth, but the increasing adoption of technical devices in schools and colleges means manufacturers of stationery products and office supplies need to remain responsive to industry needs and carefully manage their supply base,” said Syed Ali Akbar, Show Director of Messe Frankfurt’s Paperworld Middle East, the region’s largest international trade exhibition for the stationery, paper, gifts, and office supplies industry.
Alongside digitalisation lies the rising demand for sustainable products as suppliers have to live up to new client demands for carbon-limiting supplies and distribution chains.
“These are genuine issues that are here and now, and we have reimagined the role of Paperworld Middle East to address these issues,” explained Akbar. “The show is now also a knowledge-sharing forum and an ideal space to network, share ideas, source new products and discover innovative solutions that are sustainable, promote efficiency and productivity, and are cost-effective.”
When the 2022 show opens its three-day run at the Dubai World Trade Centre on November 15, it will find an expanded product showcase encompassing office and school supplies but also festive decorations and brandable merchandise.
Yet in an ironic twist, the growth in office investment, stimulated by tech start-ups regionwide, could help offset the impact of digital adoption.
Office space requirement is rising sharply in Nairobi and Lagos post-Covid and is exacerbated by demand from Africa’s growing start-up community. 6W predicts Africa’s venture capital investments will exceed US$10 billion in 2025, creating greater demand for stationery products.
In the Middle East, the UAE remains a hotbed of activity with post-Covid demand for office space in Dubai surging to a five-year high amid a huge influx of foreign companies looking to expand or relocate in the country. Office units with a combined 480,000 square feet of space were delivered in the first quarter of this year, bringing the city’s supply to 107 million square feet, all of which is expected to generate demand for office stationery supplies.
The Saudi factor
Saudi Arabia also holds out great promise in the commercial office space sector and is actively implementing policies and incentives to encourage international firms to set up shop in the Kingdom.
“It’s estimated that nearly 32 million square feet of office space is being built in the kingdom’s capital to accommodate the multinational corporations relocating to Saudi Arabia,” says 6W research. “This sudden increase in the number of offices will drive the market for stationery products in the coming years.”
The Saudi government has launched its Program HQ campaign in a bid to attract 500 international corporates to relocate regional headquarters to Riyadh by 2030 and is attracting investors with incentives such as a 50-year tax holiday, waiving quotas for Saudi citizens, and protection against any future regulations. To date, 24 international companies have agreed to establish their regional offices in the Saudi capital, increasing the office space demand and positively impacting the stationery market.
On top of changing regulations within leading jurisdictions, the regional industry must also factor in increasing demands for sustainability credentials for products and services. For the second year running, Messe Frankfurt Middle East has introduced a special Project Sustainability area into Paperworld Middle East where exhibitors’ environmentally friendly products feature along with their ‘eco-credentials.’
“This is a clear sign of the times and one which the entire industry is actively engaged in,” added Akbar. “This is now an era where the sector has adopted an approach that goes well beyond paper thereby ensuring a sustainable future.”
About Messe Frankfurt Middle East:
Messe Frankfurt Middle East’s portfolio of 16 exhibitions includes Automechanika Dubai, Automechanika Riyadh, Beautyworld Middle East, Beautyworld Saudi Arabia, Hardware + Tools Middle East, Hypermotion Dubai, Intersec, Intersec Saudi Arabia, Gifts & Lifestyle Middle East, Light Middle East, Materials Handling Middle East, Materials Handling Saudi Arabia, Middle East Cleaning Technology Week, Paperworld Middle East, Prolight + Sound Middle East, and SPS Automation Middle East. In the 2021/22 event season, Messe Frankfurt Middle East exhibitions combined featured 2,394 exhibitors from 53 countries, and attracted 83,124 visitors from 116 countries.