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Poppin Sets Course for Expansion

The Burch Creative Capital-backed office supply company is looking to take its fashion-geared business international.

With its first retail deal in place with Staples, the Burch Creative Capital-backed office supply company Poppin plans to take its fashion-geared business international.

This story first appeared in the June 28, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In addition to its own Web site, the company is now selling its colorful notebooks and desk supplies exclusively at select Staples stores and via the Staples Web site. Poppin, which also sells furniture, wall art and gifts, is working on a distribution deal with a design-oriented domestic chain and it also expects to reveal its first international deal July 15. The company will expand its wall art and introduce soft goods for back-to-school including totes and bags for work.

The plan is to exceed $1 billion in sales within the next five to seven years, said chief executive officer and chairman Randy Nicolau. The company is developing its first TV commercial, and starting next year, there are plans to collaborate with fashion designers. To try to stand apart in the estimated $400 billion office supply arena, Poppin offers color-coded items that are merchandised in custom-designed, in-store fixtures. Such merchandising is the norm for fashion-driven stores, but it is new terrain for office ones, which haven’t changed a great deal in the past 25 years, he said. “We want people to realize, ‘Oh, all these things I used to ignore I can now personalize and accessorize like I do with everything else I own?’” Nicolau said. “We want people to dress their desks.”

With its bright color range, Poppin looks to be in the same vein as C. Wonder, but Nicolau insisted the companies operate as two separate entities. “We’re both just focusing on what’s relevant,” Nicolau said. Information is sometimes shared. When C. Wonder saw strong results for monogrammed products, Poppin started to sell them as well.

The company currently employs 40 people in New York and eight in Shanghai. With $11 million in recent financing, the aim is to have between 75 and 100 staffers by the end of this year, Nicolau said. Prior to teaming up with his friend Burch, he mapped out the concept for Demdex Inc., which Adobe bought in 2011. He also headed up AzoogleAds and was at one time president of Playboy.com.