School suppliers court parents' cash

By Lynley Bilby

Bookstores join battle for back-to-school dollars.

Jitu Patel, owner of Onehunga Paper Plus. Photo / Richard Robinson.
Jitu Patel, owner of Onehunga Paper Plus. Photo / Richard Robinson.

Parents can now pay school fees in some bookstores while picking up stationery packs as the battle for back-to-school dollars heats up.

Onehunga Paper Plus owner Jitu Patel said he came up with the initiative to survive in the fiercely competitive market.

He has offered to receive school fees and donations on behalf of Onehunga Primary School as an added convenience for customers.

"If you want to get the business, you have to offer more than good prices," he said.

Elsewhere, parents are being offered huge markdowns as rival suppliers fight for a slice of the $31 million market.

Warehouse Stationery is offering discounts of up to 90 per cent and sells exercise books for as little as 5c.

A growing number of schools are directing parents to buy stationery from OfficeMax, which processes huge numbers of orders through an online purchasing system, MySchool.

Schools can earn hefty cash injections or new classroom equipment through the system.

OfficeMax general education manager Suzanne Flannagan said the MySchool service was convenient for busy parents.

But rival Warehouse Stationery said OfficeMax's market dominance was denying parents a choice. Head of marketing Cathy Atkins said some schools were not even releasing stationery lists to parents.

"We're seeing a lot more of what feels like not allowing customers to shop around and pointing them to certain directions," she said.

Wakaaranga Primary School in East Auckland is one of many schools to axe stationery lists. "We will not be publishing stationery lists on our website this year, or handing them out," says its website.

Instead parents are directed to buy all books from OfficeMax, either through the website or at the Manukau store.

Other independently owned Paper Plus stores in Auckland promise a percentage from purchases will be paid in cash to nominated schools.

Glendowie Primary School pupils are given a voucher for Paper Plus at Eastridge Shopping Centre after the school received a $1273 cut from last year's sales.

And Belmont Intermediate School encouraged parents to shop at Takapuna Paper Plus, highlighting the "valuable" rebate the school earned.

Auckland Primary Principals' Association president Jill Corkin said parents shopping for bargains should be careful the products worked.

"We've had experience of things like parents buying stationery from the $2 Shop that just doesn't cut the mustard."

COSTS

$87.30 - Belmont Intermediate School stationery costs when purchased from Takapuna Paper Plus
$70.60 - Stationery costs when purchased online from Warehouse Stationery (approximate)

Read more:

Mum happy to pay extra with loyalty schemes
Diana Clement: Savings worth the guilt for school stationery

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 18 Apr 2014 18:44:01 Processing Time: 505ms