Viking Catalog - Putting It All Together (3,692 words)
Business-to-business Mega-Cataloger Viking Office Products Thinks Locally
Across a Vast Global Workflow
Founded in 1960, Viking Office Products is legendary for its customer service. But as the Torrance, CA-company expands into more and more countries around the world, another remarkable story is taking shape: International business done with the local culture in mind. For the challenge of keeping the Viking brand intact across national boundaries, and in spite of cultural differences, streamlined asset management and workflow are a major aid.
Prior to Viking's merger with Office Depot, sales in fiscal 1998 were approximately $1.5 billion, all through mail order. Viking's annual sales are no longer reported separately from the parent company: Office Depot's worldwide consolidated sales for fiscal 1999 are $10.3 billion. This figure includes the Office Depot retail, contract, direct mail and Internet sales in addition to Viking direct mail—with active accounts worldwide of approximately 3 million, and an extraordinary customer retention rate of about 70 percent.
The Viking catalog trade in 11 countries last year reached the overwhelming mass of 53,000 pages, 900 mailings and 298 million copies produced.
"In 1999 if you laid our catalog pages end to end, we printed enough to travel to the moon 13 times or around the earth 125 times," says Rex Ciavola, vice president for catalog production at Office Depot/Viking, who oversees this huge operation in eight languages at nine creative-services facilities (two in the United States—one each for Office Depot and Viking, seven abroad in the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Japan and Australia). These facilities host a staff of 175 creative, prepress, print production and systems-support individuals. The global team produces buyers' guides and monthly sale and prospect catalogs in every country.
Remembering Who They Are
Prior to his five-year career at Viking, Ciavola was a member of the sales force for Quebecor Printing, where Viking was his largest account.