Ricoh, the global technology giant headquartered in Tokyo, Japan has been steadily capturing the market in the Middle East. The company is represented in the region through Giffin Graphics which is investing heavily in Ricoh’s machines. In an exclusive interview with ME Printer, Patrick Giordano, Director, Production Printing Business Group from the Commercial Division shared his views on the market, the various contractual agreements, strategy for the future and Ricoh’s vision for the Middle East.
Ricoh offers both managed print services as well as managed document services. Ricoh’s core division lies in managing office automation products which takes up 80% of their business and managing document services.
Patrick said, “It is a service umbrella which not only helps them to manage their fleets but also the workflow. So it is an important business for us. The sub division is the ITDC – IT distribution channel which is a three year old division where we sell new products like projectors, cameras and low end printers. The fourth division is the production printing systems which is handled by Patrick himself.
Ricoh’s print heads are world renowned. It has a number of OEM contracts across different technologies. The company invests heavily in research and development and also invests in the core components which are required for innovation. Giordano says, “The print head typically the inkjet technology is a long term investment. It was an anticipated strategy which has been followed by many competitors. Everyone is now using inkjet print head.”
“Regarding the OEM agreements, when you look at printing, there are several components. So Ricoh leveraged the best of markets that have the capacity to fulfill the requirements of industry transformation quickly. Typically, Mimaki is very strong on large format printing. So we have an agreement with Mimaki,” stated Patrick.
There has been strong relationship between Ricoh and IBM too. Ricoh has leveraged on IBM’s technology and taken huge strides in the industry. When IBM decided to sell its printing division to Ricoh three years back, a joint venture in the form of Infoprint Solution came into existence. Patrick said, “It was this time when I moved into Ricoh from IBM and was in the managing head office. Today Infoprint has been integrated into the Ricoh production printing as a new division. VC60000, the new continuous feed machine is the first machine in the market with high speed graphical inkjet with this quality level.”
Patrick also emphasized on the global trends in the print industry. He mentioned that though there has been a shift from offset to digital, just 1% of A4 digital printing takes place globally. Patrick predicts that three to four years down the line, digital printing will increase and Ricoh reckons to add value to the job. The growth potential is humungous. That’s precisely the reason why Ricoh invests heavily in research and development.
“With less than 1%, it doesn’t mean that 99% is the potential to move towards digital. It means a big part will move towards media, cell phone, computer and projectors. We are in the communications business at the end of the day. We leverage the right medium. Graphical offset is still a strong medium. But I feel that in 3 to 4 years time, we will not print the same document on offset but we will print a lot of new document on digital,” said Patrick.
Though Ricoh has been a late entrant in the Middle Eastern market, it is gradually becoming an important player in the region. In lieu with further expansion in the Middle East, Ricoh opened its first office in Dubai on 1st April, 2015. Patrick adds, “The new office will take care of the entire GCC operations. We entered the Middle East not so long ago. We were in the market but not effectively. One of the agreements we started was with Giffin Graphics. We also have an OEM agreement with Hiedelberg. We work closely with them and they have launched the Ricoh Cut Sheet machine. But Giffin Graphics continues to invest in Ricoh machines.”
“Two years ago, Mohammad AL Otaiba group opened a new division dedicated to Ricoh production printing. We want to establish ourselves as the market is critical and we want to speed up our growth in this region. We are very serious about this market. This is a huge market with fast transformation.“
Another critical investment Patrick emphasizes is on the workflow. This is typically what Ricoh has acquired from IBM.