Among the many topics covered in an in-depth interview for the current issue of PrintWeek, Paperlinx executive director Andrew Price said the goals of the merchant trade bodies, unlike those that directly support Paperlinx customers, didn’t fit with its “better, faster, cheaper” strategy.

“I don’t care how many tonnes we sell, I don’t care what our market share is, the only thing I’m interested in is how much profit we make. When I can pay my electricity bill with market share, then I’ll consider it a reasonable statistic,” said Price.

“I would be happy for our market share to reduce, if our profits increased. In the past, some of our people and some of our competitors were so concerned with market share that they were giving away profit. That just doesn’t make sense. We need to move away from this obsession with tonnage, we need to focus on adding value.”

One of the key services of the NAPM is its paper statistics, which reveal the volume of paper being sold by UK merchants and is used by some as a barometer of the industry’s health. Without the inclusion of Paperlinx’s sales volumes, which account for around 40%-50% of the market, the statistics will have limited value.

However, an increasing number of industry watchers question whether other metrics, such as value, present a fairer, more realistic reflection of the industry’s health.

In the future, Price said that Paperlinx wants to focus its efforts on supporting bodies and events that support its customers.

“Anything that supports our customers, we want to support. We’ll be a strong supporter of the BPIF, we are also very supportive of Fespa,” he said.

“I think we’ll probably still support Two Sides, because I think that does add value to the industry, but we will watch them to see what they achieve.”

NAPM director Tim Bowler confirmed that the Paperlinx companies Howard Smith, PaperCo and Robert Horne had given notice of their intention to resign at the end of 2013, but said that they would remain members until that time.

He added that he was very keen to maintain a dialogue with the Paperlinx companies and was due to meet Price later this month to discuss the merchant’s withdrawal.

However, Bowler said he didn’t want to comment specifically on Paperlinx’s withdrawal until after he had met with Price.

“The NAPM has been going since 1920 and while Paperlinx are the single largest member, they’re still only one of the members, and the Policy Group is committed to ensuring that the association continues, maybe in some different shape or form,” said Bowler.

“The Paperlinx companies have always been the staunchest of supporters of the NAPM up until Mr Price’s arrival in the UK. We offer a lot more than purely statistics, being the only voice for the merchants in the UK and we need to survive for all those current and potential future investors in the industry,” he added.

To read the full interview with Andrew Price, click here.