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“A Time to Diversify Into Industrial Printing”

Exclusive Interview with Walid Amin, head of Office Equipment Division of Juma Al Majid group

With almost 30 years’ experience to his credit, Walid Amin is a well-known professional within regional digital printing market and office equipment. During his professional tenure he worked with top technology brands such as Xerox, Sharp, Canon and partners of Kyocera, Samsung, Huawei and HP.

He recently joined Juma al Majid as the head of Office Equipment Division. We took the opportunity to talk to him about his plans in his new role as well as the trends within digital printing sector in general and office equipment in particular.

Juma Al Majid is a big group involved in many industries and sectors how important is printing industry in general and office equipment sector in particular for the overall activities of group?

The Juma Al Majid Group began its humble beginnings in 1950 with the drive and vision of its founder – H.E. Juma Al Majid. Today and 70 years later, the Group is a conglomerate with over 30 companies operating across multiple categories – Automotive & Heavy Equipment, FMCG, Consumer & Office Equipment, Real Estate, Travel & Tourism, Contracting & Services (pillars within which are manufacturing, electro-mechanical contracting, facilities management, and technical products trading) and Investment. The conglomerate is governed by the leadership of the Chairman H.E. Juma Al Majid, Vice-Chairman H.E. Khalid Juma Al Majid, Group Chief Operating Officer Mr. Tarig Shalabi and a team of select top management.

The Group’s Office Equipment Division sits within our Commercial Sector and dates back to 1971 during which the Group was also appointed as the UAE’s exclusive distributor for Konica (later renamed Konica Minolta).

Business productivity depends on fast and efficient processes and equipment that meet the documentation, communication and information retrieval requirements and needs of any business simply and effectively. Through its partnership with Konica Minolta, the Group’s Office Equipment Division not only opened new market segments for the Juma Al Majid Group but also been able to meet the needs of the business community in the ever-growing UAE market as it has cemented its position as the region’s commercial and trading hub.

Thanks to our customer-centric philosophy, complemented by an unwavering commitment to providing innovative office solutions and quality services, the Group’s Office Equipment Division has constantly updated its product lines and delivery systems to keep abreast with new technologies thereby cementing its market leadership position within the sector.

We believe that it is time to diversify into Industrial Printing products with focus on Labels & Packaging products in particular. We are one of the strongest established business entities in UAE, we could absolutely fetch bigger share of this business as well.

We are moving to take bigger & serious business steps, to become one of the major players specialized into Industrial Packaging solutions.  Since the trend is already evident, competition is also expected to grow.

The packaging print business is directly dependent on the population, consumer, lifestyle and the modern trends.  As a result, drift would be from Printing Mass to on demand & personalized commodities.  Which we are considering as our focus.

Not to forget the audiovisual solutions where demand is increasing day after day. We have already formed a strategic partnership with BenQ.

How did pandemic affected your activities and how did you mitigate its effects on your business and employees?

Just like most businesses in the UAE, the Group’s Office Equipment Division was also impacted by the pandemic.  The Work-From-Home or Remote Working measures implemented by Government ministries and most businesses across the UAE, coupled with the drive towards a paperless economy led by the UAE Government, have certainly accelerated the decline of office print volumes.  Having said that, we can see some positive signs emerging as of beginning of Q2’2021 – specifically, print volumes have slightly increased vs. Q1’2021 and previous quarters in 2020.  Looking ahead however, we anticipate few factors that will impact our business, namely: companies will continue to print less in the office and therefore print volumes will not necessarily go back to pre-COVID levels, secondly Remote Working will definitely continue, and thirdly digital transformation by businesses will continue to be on the rise.  With this in mind and in partnership with Konica Minolta, we at Juma Al Majid Group’s Office Equipment Division in our effort to provide technologically advanced documentation solutions to our customers, are now providing strategic digital solutions thereby successfully contributing to our customers’ digital transformation journeys; where needed, we are also complementing our services with other partners. At Juma Al Majid Office Equipment Division – we pride ourselves in having served our customers for the past 50 years, and we are confident that we shall continue to provide them with quality products, innovative documentation solutions and services for many years to come.

Pandemic did affect our activities as well.   Most of our customer’s customers are dependent on Tourism, & Travel, Hospitality, Events & Advertising industry and these are the most effected businesses.  And above all the Commercial Print industry took the biggest hit due to reduction in volume business. Delays in decisions & payments are getting normal, causing uncertainty of ROIs & business stability.

Our business is more related to Look & feel, the printed products & samples customer need to see in real, especially in case of Production & Industrial print buyers.  And one to one visits are inevitable. Therefore, we prefer one-one meeting over the online.

As of now, nearly all of our customers are open to meet us adhering to the Covid19 protocols.

Konica Minolta is one of the biggest suppliers of digital printing equipment in the world, however the digital printing market is very competitive specially in our region what is your market share in UAE?

It is true, Konica Minolta is one of the biggest players in the world who are into the digital print equipment manufacturing with several technology innovations & patents under their sleeves.

Konica Minolta is the only production print manufacturer who did not ventured out into 5th & 6th colors units with toner-based gold/silver & clear spot UV effects in the Presses.

Instead, they opted to work into improving quality & productivity of toners. And preferred to provide the real foiling and spot UV instead of simulation of gold & silver.  Therefore, partnered with the industry leader of digital embellishments M/s MGI – France and become their major shareholder.

In UAE, we do hold a considerable share, when it comes to production print Middle-tier business. And with the launch of the new flagship production press – AccurioPress C12000/14000, which is in face-off with the major players in the high-end digital press range already. This year first quarter was a good start.

In the Inkjet B2 size press, Konica Minolta is the only manufacturers in the world with more than 100 plus installations worldwide for their B2 size UV inkjet press KM-1e. Konica Minolta is the preferred technology for the quality & consistency.

Coronavirus crisis accelerated a number of trends in printing industry. There is now more demand for label and packaging, what type equipment Konica Minolta offer for label and packaging market?

Konica Minolta diversified into the Industrial Printing by introducing their first digital label press in the Durpa 2016. And today, they are offering their third generation Label press the AccurioLabel 230 with 23 m /min speed. It is the latest toner based high quality roll to roll digital label press in the market, which prints on most of the standard flexo substrates used in label industry, without the need of any preparation or coating. The maxim width it could handle is 330 mm & capable of producing low and medium run digital labels jobs with competitive per print cost & quality.

Do you experience a decline in demand for office equipment because of pandemic?

In our view, the Office equipment sector is definitely getting affected adversely, due to the new trend picking up in the media and communication business.  The govt. departments are switching slowly to paperless operation, Customers preferring for process automation Solutions, Digitization of prints, Mobile technologies & the go green initiatives.  We believe it is the changing dynamics of business today.

Konica Minolta offers textile printer. It seems that digital textile printing sector is experiencing a boom? Is that a fair assessment based on your experience?

Yes, Konica Minolta is one of the leading & preferred manufacturers for the textile printing machines in the world. However, we at Juma Al Majid Est. are not handling this portfolio of industrial textile printing machines. Since these machines need very high-volume printing & mostly used by textile manufacturers & looms.

You also offer a wide range of label converting solution, is this a booming market for you as well?

Along with digital label printing machine, label converting / finishing is inevitable. We represent digital finishers for short quantity label converting from DPR-SRL-Italy, which does not need any tooling and die-cuts using contour cutting mechanism with unwind, lamination, matrix remover and slitting rewinding.  Very quick make ready and starts job instantly.

Besides, we represent Brotech Graphic Technology Ltd. one of the leading label converting & finishing equipment supplier in the world, OEM to several major digital press manufacturer including Konica Minolta for transport systems. They offer full range of label converting solutions, viz. slitting rewinders, inspection systems, combination finishers with flexo units available with full & semi-rotary, Rotary & semi rotary die-cutting units, seaming machines, seaming inspection machines, Turn-bar, in line and offline screen printing for labels, finishing for IML, glue-less labels, inline and offline Turret rewinders, booklet label finishers and more. We are glad to inform our first Brotech machine is in full production at our customer already.

Since commercial offset printing is declining many commercial printers are now considering moving to label printing, how can you help them to do this transition?

Label Printing Business is a different industry, which do need industry knowledge and knowhow to get in, especially when diversifying from commercial printing business. Today the label printing business is mostly done by multi colour Rotary Flexo & Rotary Intermittent offset presses, which are feasible for high volume labels and configured with inline finishing capabilities. We recommend to begin with Konica Minolta Digital Label Press AccurioLabel 230 with our DPR finisher or Brotech Digital Finisher and we would be pleased to provide all support, detailed consultancy, ROI & cost calculation & training on the machines for them to understand well, the transition from commercial printing to roll fed label business for our customers.

Regarding office equipment since now many people are working from home do you see a rise in demand for small printers or other office equipment by individuals who are setting up a workstation in their home?

Indeed, demand for small/home printer is increasing due to working from home. We also see a good demand of monitors after Covid19.

When Juma al Majid decided to enter printing industry and why?

We Juma al Majid est. are the exclusive distributors for Konica Minolta for more than 46 years for UAE and ever since we are serving the printing business. However, from office printers to copiers, we expanded our product portfolio as our principle adapted, we started promoting their Production Press since more than 13 years now and since 2016 we too diversified into selling Industrial Printing solutions from them, which includes Konica Minolta Label Presses, sheetfed and webfed digital embellishment solutions from MGI. And from 2020, we started marketing & selling the Industrial Inkjet UV press for B2 size for them as well.

In your opinion what future holds for office equipment and digital printing industry?

Demand is still increasing on managed print services, production/industry printing as well as the audio-visual hardware and solutions.

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