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Peter Williams on Ricoh's graphic arts strategy

Published on June 7, 2010

Interviewer:  Peter, can you tell me in terms of this industry, what Ricoh is doing in terms of establishing itself as a graphic arts supplier.

Peter Williams:  Hi, Andy.  First of all, a little bit of background.  Obviously, Ricoh has been investing, both by acquisition and organic growth in professional print in general and graphic arts specifically.  We have the Hitachi brand - the Hitachi printing systems was acquired in 2004.  We have Danka Europe who was acquired, I think, 2007.  More recently Ikon and obviously the InfoPrint JV with IBM which concludes in June this year.  All those are contributing to our skill base and technology applicable to production print and specifically graphic arts.  So we believe with our products that we have available whether the C900 720 already well placed in the model line, that we feel that we have now the capability, and certainly the desire to operate and be very successful in the graphic arts market. 

Interviewer:  And in this, you ability, what are a few of the things we would expect, in terms of business builder programs, etcetera, in terms of assisting people getting into the market and building a business. 

Peter Williams:  Yes, we do, in fact, that’s a very good point.  We believe it’s our responsibility to nurture and develop our corporate print and commercial print customers in developing their value proposition.  And we’ve just launched over the last couple of months, it’s now available, I think, in five or six languages, a program called a Business Driver Program and that gives access to training materials; it gives access to, obviously, technology, **** 20 papers, and hands on tools for developing business, perhaps encouraging people to develop their digital printing solutions to become not just printers, but marketers.  And that’s obviously complimented and supplemented by our transactional print proposition that we have through our InfoPrint partner.

Interviewer:  Now, you mention InfoPrint.  InfoPrint, at the end of June, comes a 100% wholly owned division of Ricoh.  How does that react to - is that going to be a major help in terms of having that as a Ricoh company to broaden your market scope in all areas?

Peter Williams:  Yes.  First of all, yes, we’ve enjoyed the JV with IBM over the last three years, or near three years, it will be three years to completion at the end of June this year.  And we believe the technology proposition, the value proposition InfoPrint brings to the Ricoh family group it really resonates - reinforces our commitment to the market.  It gives us an immediate presence in transactional print and we think the whole area of technology that work flow particularly that InfoPrint has, much of those assets - all of the relevant assets actually, will be retained within the new InfoPrint company as opposed to partitioning with IBM.  We have all the assets now in place to develop and continue to develop our trans-promotional activity.  And I think the, I would call it the halo effect, the fact that we have corporate sponsorship from Ricoh with the outstanding technical base and skill base that InfoPrint has, we think it’s an outstanding value proposition for our customers, new and existing.

Interviewer:  It’s interesting, I noticed the branding of the new InfoPrint.  You see there it’s big Ricoh, small InfoPrint, you’re emphasizing the power of Ricoh as a global brand in that sort of case.

Peter Williams:  Yes, I’m not really qualified to comment on the branding specific background. However, I think it does reinforce the fact that InfoPrint desired a need, a large corporate sponsor, such as Ricoh, but we want to continue to enjoy the association we have with IBM.  I think that’s a very compelling argument in quite a congested field.  IBM will remain a strategic partner and the heritage that InfoPrint has with its IBM prior parent is very compelling in the market place.

Interviewer:  Finally, what reaction have you had at Ipex, you know, Ipex many people are seeing as a regeneration of the industry.  What reaction have you had.  Are you getting - are you feeling that people are coming to you and seeing this is - as a good Ipex for you and for them?

Peter Williams:  Actually this is Ricoh’s first Ipex.  Although the component parts may have been present previously.  So we are excited that we’re here.  We’ve been delighted and we are delighted with the number of customers existing and new and visitors understand we think about the quantity and the quality of customers we’re seeing is outstanding and we’re very pleased in that and I think that does bode well for the market in general.  Without the market, obviously, regardless of our branding, regardless of our technology, it would be all for nothing.  I think it bodes well for the market.  I think particularly digital print, obviously.  I think digital print is probably the largest component now at Ipex as I understand it to be, for the first time.  And so we’ve been delighted with Ipex and remember drupa for 2008 was Ricoh’s first drupa, also.  So now we’re looking forward to drupa, I guess, in 2012.

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