Distripress Training Program Report
The Press Observation Trip to
Netherlands and Greece
April 23rd to May 4th, 2007
Miss Nisana Limphitaya
Senior Vice President,
Distribution and Logisitics
The Distripress Training Foundation provided me with an excellent opportunity to
travel and observe two press distribution companies in Europe. The two-week
traineeship was conducted at Betapress in The Netherlands and Hellenic Distribution
Agency Ltd in Greece.
The main objectives of the training program were to improve my qualifications for a
career in press distribution in the following ways:
To learn and understand how new technology and tools are used in the distribution of
To gain new experiences and insights into the best practices of other distributors.
To improve my own company’s processes & systems in order to better distribute
press in our market, Thailand.
WEEK 1: BETAPRESS – THE NETHERLANDS
Betapress, a Distripress member, imports foreign press and distributes both domestic
and foreign press (around 2 thousand titles) and non-press products to 8,500 outlets.
Betapress is a subsidiary of Audax, a multifaceted group engaged in the publication
and distribution of media products. There are four main business groups consisting of
publishing and media companies, distributors, logistics and their own retail outlets.
The Betapress business strategy is smart in that it focuses in part upon growing their
business through some diversification, such as publishing and their own retail outlets.
This strategy helps them protect their share in a highly competitive market. Their own
network of retail outlets and the publishing arm now accounts for approximately 50%
of their total revenue. Interestingly, my own company, Distri-Thai, shares in this
strategic direction in that we are accelerating the opening of our own retail outlets,
It’s clear Betapress also places great emphasis and focus on systems which can fast
and efficient distribution to the market. In putting strong systems and structure in
place, they believe the company will be able to provide a better service to all of its
Product management have their own teams to concentrate in each unit as follows:
o Domestic press
o Foreign press
o Non-traditional (non-press product)
All four of these teams have direct contact with publishers and distributors.
The Sales department has their own team to concentrate on the retail chain and
independent shops along with twenty-five customer service staff supporting the
outlets. This structure allows the sales team to focus primarily on expanding the
market and generating revenue.
They also serve as the main contact groups for retailers.
The Trade Marketing department consists of category management, promotion and
communications. Trade Marketing serves as the bridge between Product Management
and Sales to combine plans for publishers and retailers. The structure also functions to
forge an effective cooperation on important issues, such as promotions, introductions,
They also share additional commercial value by providing:
Publishers and distributors access the Betapress website to find data concerning the
allocation, sales, selling points and other information useful to the business.
Free copies of Betapress weekly news bulletin to all outlets wherein new products are
Outlets with bi-annual Betapress Titles which is a summary of all titles.
Betapress recognizes the importance of commercial distribution and logistics to grow
their business. Each department has a strong support team, such as Product
Management, which provides statistical information from Category Management to
more fully understand consumer trends. Additionally, the Sales department can
implement successful promotions from the effective designs by the Promotion and
Communications group. Finally, they also receive valuable information support from
Category Management on the types of promotion that are likely to succeed in each
Operation’s Roles & Responsibilities
The Operations Department is the logistical heart of Betapress and is organized in the
Receipt, Planning, Goods,
Ultramodern processing guides the logistical routing of magazines.
The responsibilities for each unit are roughly as follows:
This is where the physical receipt, inspection
and planning takes place for all magazines to be
distributed. Simultaneously with the delivery of
the new issue, a request is made to return the
previous issue. These data can be found on the
Packing/Return Request slip. Planning for
incoming titles so every department can see an
overview and forecast their work such as
logistics, packing and revert logistics. The
process also involves locating or identifying any
missing titles from their work schedule.
By means of two ultramodern packing lines, the
magazines are packed for each customer in
magazine crates. At the end of these lines, a crate is
provided with a packing slip and an address sticker.
The magazine crate is then ready for shipment. This
cutting-edge technology permits packing lines an
ability to pack magazines into 10,000 crates per
hour. The machines can pack approximately 3
million magazine copies per week.
Every evening, the magazine crates are transported to depots. From these, about 230
vans depart early in the morning to deliver the new magazines to the customer and
take the returned copies to the depots. These subsequently go to Gilze.
Advanced hardware is at their disposal for the processing of returns. It is equipped
with cameras and operates according to an imaging process. First the magazine’s bar
code is detected. If this does not result in recognition, the system recognizes the
magazine by way of its cover image. Pictures of all covers are taken upon publication
and stored in the library of the computer. The system can operate around 1.5 million
copies per week and allows for the sorting of the returns to be done as required by the
publisher such that it can be sent for disposal, held for any promotion or kept for
Betapress systems are very impressive. The entire production and workflow saves
significant time each step of the way. The investment in systems, producing a highly
efficient operation, is directly converted into higher profit margin. As a proof of the
effectiveness of their system, Betapress was voted Best Logistics Manager for the
WEEK 2: HELLENIC DISTRIBUTION AGENCY – GREECE
Hellenic is not only one of Greece’s leading importers and distributors of
international press, but one of the oldest members of Distripress. The Hadzopoulos
family has been active members of the press distribution business since before I was
born! They were also generous enough to send a delegation to offer assistance to
Distri-Thai in the wake of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, which greatly impacted our
It was really very special to have an opportunity to spend time with this company and
learn from the decades of business experience. Some of what I learned about the nuts
and bolts of the company includes:
Import between 350-450 Daily and Sunday newspaper titles,
Import over 3,500 magazine titles,
Import books from more than 200 international publishers,
Import road maps,
Import tourist-guides from over 40 countries world wide with a network that reaches
3,500 retails outlets.
The retail and wholesale market itself
Like Distri-Thai, they operate in a highly seasonal tourist market
10% from books and other products
45% from magazines
45% from newspapers
Promotional opportunities for publishers such as display competitions.
Find information from website such as FIPP, ABC Audits to check market trend of
Get circulation advice from publishers or suppliers for new title.
Manufacture stands, drawing attention to the titles destined for the predominant
nationalities in a particular area.
Have very strong relationship with outlets because Hellenic extends a higher discount
than local press.
Assist outlet in displaying and merchandising of magazines. For example, separate
weekly magazines in the front of the shop because they are fast moving products,
permanent space for big titles so when they are
sold out or missing the shop will know.
Replenishment by getting stock from some
outlets and send to other outlets.
Have a good data analysis and support the
answer such as why this month the numbers of
copies are selling more than last month because
perhaps they import a new title.
Many kiosks are open on 24 hours basis.
Speed up on issuing the invoices to avoid bad dept due to the highly seasonal market.
Speed up to collect money from outlets twice a month to get free cash flow.
Book costs are deducted after sending the report to suppliers. This method differs
from Distri-Thai in that we await the credit notes from suppliers that can take up to 4
In high season (March – October) import 140 thousand copies per day and low season
(November – February) 35 thousand copies per day.
Have 16 distribution centers.
Unsold summary report for outlets to return the back issue.
Consistency on distribution timing for magazines to outlets.
Many kiosks are closed in low season and reopened in high season.
Due to the limited space of their outlets, they will separate big titles into 2 shipments,
with first sent immediately and the second 10 days later.
Areas supplied by air.
19 air destinations daily from Athens.
Some periodicals are sent directly from publishers to each destination to save time.
Areas supplied by vans.
12 thousand kilometers covered daily by Hellenic Distribution Agency’s vans. The
driver simply delivers the bundles to the outlet not having to wait for a receipt or
confirmation on the side of the kiosk. Also, it’s the same with returns process. Mutual
trust from both Hellenic the retailer is their bond.
Areas supplied by ship.
Areas supplied by bus.
Areas supplied by train.
Allocation & Draw
Have in-house allocation program to monitor.
Newspapers draws can change 3-4 times per week due to a highly seasonal tourist
All staff feels this is a family company resulting in lower turnover rates and highly
They have loyalty and most of them have good attitude and love their boss.
It struck me that one of Hellenic’s key strengths is its company culture. One can
almost feel the history of the company and its rightful high stature among Distrpress
members. They just have so many decades of experience it would be difficult to sum
it all up after one week’s stay, however many of the stories and experiences in
working with them for even just one week will stay with me throughout my career.
KEY LEARNINGS FROM MY TIME IN THE TRAINING PROGRAM
New ideas on systems and innovative ways to promote and market press.
The importance of good service and relations with publishers and retailers.
The importance of fast, reliable information for reporting and analysis.
Examples of highly tuned allocation systems.
A process for planning and implementation of distribution and revert logistics.
The added value and importance of new technology in improving our company.
The importance of good organizational structure and support teams.
Best practices for distribution systems.
How to operate in seasonal market, very similar to ours in Thailand.
I have seen many different and innovative ideas that can be utilized by our company
to enhance our operations. The level of technology was definitely impressive.
I was also impressed by how good organizational structures, efficient systems and
strong company values can have a positive impact on teams from different
departments and motivate them to perform their roles and responsibilities in sync
through coordination and collaboration. That eventually resulted in smooth
operational delivery of goods and services to publishers, distributors and retailers
The valuable lessons and practices I learned by visiting other press distribution
companies will serve as a role model for me to emulate and share with my colleagues
and others in the press distribution business. Hopefully in the future I will be in a
position to share and teach other members of the press distribution community.
I would like to thank the Board of Committee of the Distripress Training Foundation
for the wonderful experiences I gained by participating in the press industry company
training. I would also like to express my sincerest gratitude to all those who took part
in preparing the program. Most especially to those who spent their time sharing with
me their knowledge and experiences gained from many years of work.
I would particularly like to thank Mrs. Rietmann, Mr. Schrijver, Mr. Hadzopoulos
and his family for sharing their warm hospitality and friendliness with me during my
training. With their full support, I was able to participate in the training, which
opened my views on the press industry with positive outlook and opportunities.
It is not so easy to find exact words to express my gratitude to all. Thus, it’s my
pleasure to commensurate the kind support and trust given to me by making full use
of all the learning I earn from this program to the improvement of our company’s
Senior Vice President,
Distribution & Logistics
On behalf of Nisana, and our entire company, I would like to thank everyone who
made this field visit possible. Nisana returned to work excited by the prospects of
both her own career in the press industry and the useful knowledge she is eager to
transfer to Distri-Thai.
The Distripress Training Foundation is a truly remarkable program. I encourage the
Congress to continue in the wonderful effort to educate press industry professionals
from emerging markets and others. We at Distri-Thai are proud to have had Nisana
participate and stand ready to offer our assistance in any way we can for future
training programs among Distripress members. Please don’t hesitate to contact us
with any requests for assistance.
Robert J. Pfaff Jr.