ME Printer Magazine had a one-on-one interview with David Preskett, European Professional Print Director of Canon Europe during the recently concluded Gulf Print and Pack 2013. Talking to us he detailed the reasons behind their large presence at the show. The interview also throws light into the details of the fifth Canon Insight report, the findings of which was announced by David Preskett earlier at the show. The Canon Insight Report was prepared for the first time by Canon Middle East based on a survey conducted on Middle East users.
What is your impression of Gulf Print so far?
There is a good atmosphere here and there is general optimism. People are talking about business and the number of visitors is encouraging.
This year Canon is promoting its cross media solution, however there is still lot of confusion about cross media because it can mean different things to different people. In simple terms what is cross media for Canon and how do you sell it to a print house down in Sharjah with a couple of GTO’s and one or two color offset presses?
You’re right. There is still confusion about it, even in Europe. Let me give you a simple definition about cross media solution. It is the integration of a number of medias that are linked together to increase the responsiveness of a campaign. One simple example would be a printed document with a link to a personalized web site via a QR code where the link is registered. We are working with many partners who can offer the complete cross media solutions. We have shown our solution at drupa and it was by no means complicated. Customers can design it based on their business plan. Cross media is not for everybody but everybody can go for it. You can also define cross media based on the number of output media used, be it wide format, cut sheet, or something else. We use exhibitions such as Gulf Print and Pack to show our applications. In this show we are offering 60 different applications. Also through our Essential Business Builder program we help our customers to grow their business using a suite of tools and education workshops, as well as affordable expert consultancy. Now the printer that you mentioned is a typical small commercial printer. I’m not using small in a negative way. These companies are very flexible and they have the opportunity to grow. If they invest in our technology our responsibility is to help them grow. Buying a technology is a small part however what you do with it will be crucial for your future success. Commercial printers, big or small are using our technology. Even large web offset printers using our digital presses as separate operation for short run and on-demand printing. Today many companies are running offset and digital next to each other. The discussion however revolves around the breakeven point.
And what is the breakeven point?
I’d say it’s between 250 to 300 units for a 4 colour, 4 page brochure.
You recently pulled out of IPEX 2014 exhibition, however you have a massive presence in Gulf Print 2013; does this mean Canon is looking for growth in emerging markets rather than Europe?
That’s not true. Our digital colourbusiness in Europe grew 15% last year. Europe is a very important market for us. However in the emerging markets we also see a healthy growth. Exhibitions such as Gulf Print allow us to get closer to our customers in this region. That’s why our presence is larger here. When there is optimism in a market such as Middle East we have a lot to say. We make decisions on individual basis and we constantly challenge our business and the way we think.
The brand Canon is synonymous with camera, does this preconceived notion makes it difficult for the company to promote itself as a major digital printing equipment vendor as well?
Not at all! This is part of our strength that people recognize the quality of our cameras. In IPEX 2010 we displayed cameras in our stand and it was amazing to see how many print professionals were actually playing with our cameras. This offered us the best opportunity to start a conversation about the camera and how you can feed the image to our wide format printers and print beautiful posters. Today people are able to put together everything from image capture to image output and make money. For us this trend is very positive. Our product range is very diverse and we spend 10 to 15% of our turnover on R&D. Our entire portfolio is linked to imaging technologies and people recognize that.
How is the integration between Océ and Canon playing out?
It works very well. There are customers that are buying a combination of Canon and Océ technology. For example Prisma workflow from Océ is now working in tandem with imagePRESS. Prisma’s unique operator interface is very efficient. Image PRESS is a high quality fast machine and easy to use. There is also technology exchange between Océ and Canon. In drupa we launched a finishing unit which is attached to the back of an imagePRESS. This piece of kit uses Océ interface technology and it allows us to connect third party finishing devices to imagePRESS. In R&D we are using the synergy between both companies.
When will we see the high end range of Canon and Océ’s products in our region? Equipment such as continuous feed high speed inkjet printers or the Dreamlabo 5000 printer for production of photo books?
There is no reason why we shouldn’t exhibit a high speed continuous inkjet printer here in the Middle East. However our customers are looking more for applications, wide format printing, web to print solutions and so on. We understand our customers’ requirement and the show is not about technology only. Dreamlabo 5000 on the other hand is a very high quality specialized printer for production of photo books. We launched it in Drupa and we received positive feedbacks. We have already installed two units in Europe and we are talking to our customers about the business model around it.
Earlier in your presentation about the Insight Report you mentioned some of the findings of the study were shocking, why?
First of all I was pleased to find out there is such a big demand in this region for printed products. That means there is opportunity for Canon and our customers to capitalize on this demand. The area that I was shocked about is the understanding of digital printing capabilities. According to the report, 59% of the print buyers apparently are not aware of digital printing capabilities such as short run, print on demand and variable data printing. If this is the case there are lots of opportunities for print service providers to market themselves differently. The quality is given now a days. Printing is actually the output end of a long added value process. Data and creativity are the differentiators.