The office refreshment supply market is booming as dedicated employees work longer days to finish their tasks The economic recession and company retrenchments over the past few years have resulted in longer working days for many employees. Interestingly, this presents business opportunities for some entrepreneurs as staff are spending more time in the office. The market appetite for office refreshment supply is on the rise. Jackel Porter, a market leader in the local office refreshment supply market, has wasted no time in capitalising on the growth of consumer demand. Company spokesman Dickie Ho said the overall office refreshment market was tough, compounded by increasing oil prices and fierce competition from rival players. But the longer working hours these days were leading to a growing demand for quality office refreshment delivery services, he said. In response to fast-changing customer tastes and demands, Jackel Porter has invested $40 million in building a new factory in a bid to upgrade the bottled distilled water business, and to bring in new products before the end of the year. Mr Ho said the company's edge lay in its one-stop services and comprehensive supplier and distribution networks. 'We began doing office refreshment supply since day one of our operation - that was 29 years ago - to complement our water cooler, coffee dispenser and distilled water business,' he said. 'All our products are interrelated, and this provides convenience to customers. We are in a very strong position to supply the market with refreshment products, both in hardware and software. 'About 80 per cent of our existing customers consume both products of our dispenser machines and refreshments on delivery.' Mr Ho said the company now had more than 500 product suppliers and would strive to provide customers with more choices. Customers can choose from a wide variety of merchandise ranging from water, coffee, tea, milk, Coffeemate, sugar and nutrient beverages, beer, biscuits and snacks to disposable tableware, cups, paper tissues and cleaning items, medicine and first aid items. 'Shopping on our PhoneMart is not only convenient, but also economical, with prices comparable to any supermarket,' Mr Ho said. 'At the end of the month, customers get one consolidated monthly statement listing the quantity and the price of every item, allowing them to keep track of their household or office consumable expenses. 'This hassle-free stock replenishment process allows customers to focus their time and energy on their busy work schedules.' Office shoppers can order using a variety of methods, including a built-in standing order instruction on any item, quantity and delivery date. Or they can access the computerised telephone ordering system by dialling the 'One Touch Hotline', sending a fax, or using the supplier's 24-hour telephone order service. 'Internet users may even place their online orders through our e-Mart ordering system.' Mr Ho said the internet boom in 2000 had drawn a lot of newcomers to the e-platform business. 'However, many of them have been gradually eliminated by the market, and only a few solid ones have survived.' He said that most of the operators did not possess clear business strategies because they sold unrelated products such as stationery, computers and televisions along with refreshments all under one roof. In addition to an efficient logistics and warehouse system, strong logistics backup was another key to the success of Jackel Porter, he said. 'We have direct control over our logistics and warehouse facilities, equipped with a fleet of 27 lorries as well as a computerised ordering and re-ordering system to maximise the freshness of our stocks,' Mr Ho said. Founded in 1975, Jackel Porter started as a business that supplied Cafe-Bar coffee dispensers as well as water coolers. The company's patented handle means the carboy can be lifted and moved around with one hand. Jackel Porter's latest mobile refreshment centre features a combined water dispenser and Cafe-Bar in one unique design. Its signature mobile pantry model is built in with the Aqua-Tek Colibri auto Cafe-Bar and water dispenser that comes with a light emitting diode display for fast and easy control. There are eight varieties of hot drinks to choose from and the drinks are ready in about 20 seconds.