Summary of our market study

The French school supplies market has displayed varied trends since 2020. In 2021, the market experienced growth in value across all product categories, despite a general drop in sales volume in 2022, and with a substantial price increase of 4.25%. The production of these supplies remains predominantly French, emphasizing the difficulty in relocating due to factors such as the weight of paper.

The main sales channel continues to be supermarkets, with a commanding 83% market share, though e-commerce is steadily gaining traction. The global market is projected to grow moderately at a rate of 3.8% from 2021 to 2027, potentially reaching $111.1 billion. However, in France, there has been a decline in school supplies sales in hypermarkets and supermarkets, with a 5.9% increase in 2021-2022, regaining ground after a pandemic-induced slump.

In terms of product sub-categories, writing instruments and accessories have led the growth. Notwithstanding these positive developments, the industry is navigating challenges such as the impact of digital technology, falling birth rates, and decreased consumption power amidst steady price inflation. Moreover, France exhibits a trade deficit in plastic school supplies with imports ($117 million) nearly doubling exports ($53 million) in 2021, largely due to competitive pricing from countries like China and Germany.

Further, the stationery manufacturing sector has seen a 22% decline in jobs between 2015 and 2021. Also of concern are potential future regulations due to a scandal around toxic substances in school supplies, pointing to the likely tightening of health measures governing these products.

Dynamics and Trends in the French School Supplies Market

The French school supplies market caters to a diverse student population, where each of the 12 to 15 million students requires an array of educational tools yearly for their academic pursuits. Ranging from writing instruments to paper, filing, and adhesives, these supplies mostly remain produced within the French territory due to logistic challenges in relocating heavy paper-based products like notebooks. Distribution channels manifest through hypermarkets, cultural superstores, and specialized e-commerce platforms, with a strong preference among consumers towards supermarkets, which claim over 80% of the market share.

The internet shopping trend, though, is gradually gaining prominence.  The seasonal nature of school supplies sales accentuates during weeks 33 to 37, aligning with the school year's onset—manifesting a crucial time for brands to innovate and adapt, especially in an era where digital technology is making headways into educational avenues.

Amidst the challenges of diminishing birth rates and fluctuating consumption patterns, the French school supplies market is tasked to maintain the average expenditure of around €140 to €160 for school supplies, in the backdrop of pressures to integrate environmentally sustainable practices and address consumer concerns over toxic materials.

As the global landscape for school supplies projects a modest growth trajectory—with expectations to escalate to upwards of $110 billion by the latter half of the 2020s—the French market, too, sees a significant share in paper notebook exports. This is facilitated by France's substantial paper production capacity, being among the top 10 in Europe, with forests spanning between 15 and 20 million hectares. Various factors, such as the rise in literacy rates surpassing 85%, brand consciousness, and innovative marketing campaigns, drive the market forward.

Nevertheless, the French stationery industry is experiencing a labor downturn, indicating the sector's challenges amidst evolving consumer demands and technological advancements. In terms of consumer prices, the market for stationery and drawing supplies observed a stark increase between 2021 and 2022, with a rise aligning with or slightly above the general inflation rates. This speaks volumes of the price sensitivity and could be a determinant factor in future demand patterns.

Key Market Players in the French School Supplies Sector

The French school supplies market features several prominent retailers, each with its unique positioning and offering to cater to a broad spectrum of consumers – from parents to students. With their diverse distribution channels, these players ensure the back-to-school season is well-supported by easily accessible products and services.

  • E.Leclerc: As a heavyweight in the hypermarket segment, E.Leclerc holds a dominating presence with their extensive network of stores across France. They offer a vast selection of school supplies, catering to the bulk-buying tendencies of consumers seeking both variety and value for money during the high-demand season.

 

  • Cultura and Fnac: These are the go-to destinations in the "Grandes Surfaces Spécialisées" (GSS) category, specializing in cultural and creative products. Both Fnac, with its comprehensive national coverage, and Cultura, as an emerging contender, provide quality products complemented by expert sales advice. They are especially favored for their specialized offerings and the engaging shopping experience they provide.

 

  • Bureau Vallée: Leading the superstore concept since 1990, Bureau Vallée has established itself as a primary source for both retail customers and businesses. With a massive network of stores, predominately franchised, they emphasize on economies of scale, allowing them to offer competitive prices, especially for bulk purchases.

 

  • Plein Ciel: Known for a sizeable operation with numerous outlets, Plein Ciel caters to shoppers looking for a range of options in stationery and office supplies. Strategically placed, their stores make for a convenient choice for consumers throughout the country.

 

  • Top Office: Although a smaller chain compared to the others, Top Office maintains a foothold in the market with its dedicated stores. It continues to serve customers with its focused inventory, suited particularly for those in search of specific school and office supplies.

 

  • Office Dépôt: Previously a significant name in the market with multiple stores, Office Dépôt's trajectory serves as a stark reminder of the competitive nature of this industry. The challenges faced in 2021 highlight the need for adaptation and resilience in an ever-evolving marketplace.

Together, these key players bring dynamism to the French school supplies market. By addressing different consumer needs through their strategic positioning, these retailers manage to maintain relevance and continue to flourish, even in a landscape marked by digital transformation and evolving consumer behaviors.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and presentation

By school supplies, we mean all the instruments, notebooks and pens that the 15 million students and schoolchildren use to complete their education in France every year. There is therefore a real diversity of supplies, which can be categorized as follows: writing, accessories and adhesives, paper, filing. The production of school supplies remains French , as it is difficult to relocate due to the weight of paper for notebooks, for example.

Distribution channels are varied: hypermarkets, cultural superstores and specialized e-commerce platforms. Consumers, whether parents or students, prefer supermarkets (83% market share), where a veritable price war takes place. Little by little, internet shopping is gaining ground.

2022 is a key year for school supplies, with a sharp drop in sales volume, but an increase in value and a 4.25% rise in prices. Sales of school supplies remain highly seasonal, peaking between weeks 33 and 37 just before the start of the new school year.

Every year, school supply brands have to reinvent themselves and innovate to stand out from the crowd, against a backdrop of falling birth rates, declining consumption (lower purchasing power of the French; even if the budget allocated to supplies remains the same: 150€ on average) and must now adapt to the arrival of digital technology in schools.

The presence of toxic chemicals and the use of unsustainable materials are a source of dissatisfaction for some consumer associations. Stricter French and European regulations may be introduced in the years to come.

1.2 Global market trends

The global school supplies market is growing slightly, with an annual growth rate of *. *% over the period ****-****, and is expected to reach $***.* billion by ****.

Global school supplies market size World, ****-****, in USD Source: ****

Factors such as growing consumer brand awareness and the availability of a wide variety of personalization ...

1.3 National market trends

General trend

In France, the school supplies market will be worth nearly *** million euros by ****.

School supplies are mainly sold through the GSA (***), the French association of stationery and office supplies manufacturers, reports on sales of school supplies by supermarkets. [***]

Sales trends for school supplies in supermarkets and hypermarkets France, ****-****, ...

1.4 International trade

Plastic school supplies

The following graph shows the trade balance for plastic school supplies in France: it can be seen that France has a large deficit in this market, with almost double the value imported compared with the value exported each year. In ****, imports of plastic school supplies amounted to $*** million, ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Seasonal demand

We can look at Google search trends to see the seasonality of demand for school supplies in the pre-school period. The results reflect the proportion of searches for the word "fourniture scolaire" in France from **** to ****, in relation to the region with the highest rate of use of this keyword (***).

Evolution ...

2.2 Student population in France

Demand for school supplies is determined by the number of pupils and students in France. For the ****-**** school year, there are **,***,*** pupils and apprentices in France .

The *st degree covers pre-elementary and elementary education, provided in nursery, elementary and elementary school: there are *.* million for the ****-**** school year, and ...

2.3 Household spending on education

For many parents, the purchase of school supplies is a difficult and expensive task. The average cost of starting a course of study varies between €*** and €***, depending on the level of study, and additional costs can be incurred in vocational and technological courses due to the need for work clothes and ...

2.4 The trend towards more eco-responsible school supplies

Eco-responsibility

At the same time as the general awareness of environmental damage, school supplies consumers are keen to acquire more environmentally-friendly products. According to the Statista website in France in ****, over **% of those surveyed felt it was very or fairly important for school supplies to be eco-responsible. This trend and willingness ...

2.5 France's favourite pen and notebook brands

The graph below is based on OpinionWay's survey of French consumers' favorite brands in March ****. These are respondents' answers to the question "Do you like this or that brand of pen?"; for each brand, the percentage corresponds to the proportion of respondents who answered "yes".

Bic is France's favorite pen brand: ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Promotions on school supplies

While school supplies are on the shelves of major chains from June to September, the promotions in the chains' catalogs stop at the end of August: parents who are late to the party therefore benefit little from school supplies promotions, and have a reduced choice of products.

For ****, Casino is offering ...

3.2 French stationery manufacturing plants

Stationery manufacturing

France manufactures *% of the world's paper and board by value, ranking *th behind Germany, Sweden, Italy and Finland. Production between **** and **** remains stable, with an increase in sales of +*.*%, resulting from a decline of *.*% in **** followed by an increase of *% in ****. By ****, production will have reached *.* million tonnes, representing ...

3.3 Distribution channels

There are * main distribution channels for the sale of school supplies: hypermarkets, specialist stores, superstores and specialist e-commerce platforms.

Despite a slight downturn in recent years, supermarkets still account for the vast majority of school supplies sales (***). Between **** and ****, sales volumes of school supplies rose by *.*% in stores and superstores specialized ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 Consumer price indices

If we look at the stationery and drawing materials market, which includes the majority of school supplies (***), we see that prices have been rising since ****, and there will be a sharp increase between **** and **** of *.*%, slightly higher than general inflation, which is estimated at *.*% between **** and ****. [***]

Annual consumer price index for ...

4.2 Hitlist of market leaders

E.Leclerc

The following graph shows the number of products available in each category. The first category with the highest number of products is satchels and backpacks, with *,***: choosing the right satchel for back-to-school is an important choice, as it forms part of the schoolchild's outfit, and the chain therefore needs ...

4.3 Competitor price comparison

The table below compares the prices of the different types of channel represented by the leading chain for each channel. Superstore Bureau Vallée is very competitive on price, always offering the lowest prices, sometimes well below its competitors, as in the case of perforated pouches. On the other hand, the ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Current regulations

In France, as in the rest of Europe, there are nospecific regulations governing the composition, manufacture and use of school supplies. Some, however, are considered to be toys, and as such are forbidden to use carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction (***) substances in their manufacture. These include paint, felt-tip pens and ...

5.2 Future regulations

School supplies toxicity scandal

A scandal recently broke over the presence of toxic substances in school supplies. According to a study carried out by UFC-Que-Choisir based on ** of the most common school supplies on the shelves, **% of the products tested contained harmful compounds, from impurities classified as probable carcinogens to highly ...

5.3 Back-to-school allowance

The government has set up an aid scheme to help families provide for their children during the back-to-school period, which brings with it many extra costs. TheARS (***).

The amount of the ARS depends on the child's age, and ranges from €*** to €***. These amounts have been raised by *% in August **** compared with ...

6 Positioning the players

6.1 Player segmentation

Sales of individual chains

  • Bureau Vallée
  • Adveo Top Office
  • Office Depot France
  • Cultura
  • Fnac Darty
  • Rentrée Discount
  • Direct Fournitures
  • Welcome Office (Raja)
  • Lyreco France
  • BIC Groupe
  • Schwan-Stabilo
  • Pentel
  • Exacompta Clairefontaine

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Size of the global school supplies market
  • Balance of trade in plastic school supplies
  • Balance of trade in notebooks, writing implements, paper
  • France's main customers for notebooks, paper and writing materials
  • France's main suppliers of plastic school supplies
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Latest news

FNAC Darty increasingly driven by services - 23/02/2024
  • - FNAC Darty sales in 2023: 7.9 billion euros, down 0.9
  • - Services account for 15% of group sales
  • - Darty Max subscription reaches 1.1 million subscribers, an increase of 300,000 subscribers over one year
  • - Target of 2 million subscribers for Darty Max by 2025
  • - Group repaired 2.5 million products in 2023
  • - Joint venture with Ceva, "Weavenn", aims to generate 200 million euros in sales and a double-digit operating margin within 5 years
Bic makes progress with its new shavers - 20/02/2024
  • In 2023, Bic's sales rose by 9.2% at constant exchange rates and by 1.3% as reported, reaching 2.26 billion euros.
  • Despite lower volumes in stationery and lighters, the number of units purchased in the shaving segment increased. 9.5% of Bic sales came from products launched in the last three years.
  • The EZ Reach lighter exceeded the 100 million euro sales threshold and gained 10.7% of the segment by value in European supermarkets in one year.
  • Sales of the lighter rose by 3.3% at constant exchange rates.
  • In France, Bic gained 1.4 points of market share in value in stationery.
Cultura hires ex-Décathlon man as general manager - 08/02/2024
  1. Year Cultura was founded: 1998
  2. Number of employees: 4,500
  3. Number of stores in France: 109 (including 4 franchises)
  4. Number of references on e-commerce site: over 4 million.
Bic recaptures the flame - 16/10/2023
  • The non-permanent tattoo market is expected to triple over the next seven years to 1.5 billion euros.
  • Inkbox sales are in the region of $22 million.
  • Today, tobacco accounts for only half of the global market for firelighters, compared with 60-70% a decade ago.
  • In the United States, tobacco accounts for 28% of the flame market.
  • In Brazil, cooking far outstrips tobacco, with 50% of the flame market, compared with 8% for tobacco.
  • Bic's largest lighter factory produces 3 million units a day, or 50% of the division's worldwide production.
  • Bic has a broader vision for shaving, which generated over 15 million euros in sales in its first year.
  • By 2022, Bic has revised its sales forecasts three times, ending the year up 13.8% at constant exchange rates, to 2.23 billion euros.
Fnac Darty completes acquisition of MediaMarkt in Portugal - 08/10/2023
  • Fnac Darty has announced its intention to acquire Media Markt in Portugal
  • Media Markt has 10 stores in Portugal.
  • The company has 450 employees.
  • Media Markt's sales in its 2021-2022 financial year were around €140 million.
  • The acquisition consolidates Fnac Darty's number-two position in the Portuguese market.
  • Media Markt's activities in Portugal will be 100% consolidated in Fnac Darty's accounts from October 1, 2023.
Carrefour wants to compete with Mirakl, the marketplace specialist | Fnac Darty fights Mirakl - 06/10/2023
  • Fnac.com and Darty.com account for 21% of Fnac Darty Group sales.
  • Third-party merchants on these sites account for 20% of the group's online business.
  • fnac Darty recorded a net loss of 163 million euros in the first half of 2023.
  • Ceva Logistics, Fnac Darty's partner, achieved sales of $19 billion in 2022.
  • Ceva has 1,300 logistics sites in 170 countries.
  • Fnac Darty has 1,000 stores for order collection.
  • The e-commerce logistics market is estimated at $80 billion.
  • The market for the creation of marketplaces is estimated at $30 billion.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Bureau Vallée
Adveo Top Office
Office Depot France
Cultura
Fnac Darty
Rentrée Discount
Direct Fournitures
Welcome Office (Raja)
Lyreco France
BIC Groupe
Schwan-Stabilo
Pentel

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The school supplies market | France

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