Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ricoh USA " GIANT Changes Ahead"?

If you haven't heard Kirk Yoshida is coming back to Ricoh Corporation USA. Rumor has it that another top exec will be gone shortly. I have also heard through the grapevine that another brand will disappear (Savin). Keep in mind that these are rumors, I am only passing on the information that I have heard. However there are some interesting possibilities down the road if you believe what you hear.

Could another brand really disappear? I can’t see any reason why it can’t can you? If you’re looking to cut costs, and maintain or increase profit it makes sense, right? You’ve got the Ricoh Dealer Channel, Savin Dealer Channel, Lanier Dealer Channel, and Ricoh Business Solutions all competing against each other . I believe it would make good sense to drop the Savin brand and move them all to Lanier or the other drop Lanier and make them all Savin (are you guys in Atlanta hearing me). Here’s an excerpt from a Ricoh Press Release last year “Ricoh’s Gestetner dealer network in the U.S. will merge with the Lanier dealer network and form a new national dealer network selling Lanier branded products”. Just the logistics of maintaining three different brands and a Direct Channel has to be overwhelming!

From yet a third person, I heard that Kirk is being brought in to FIX the Direct Channel, what does fix mean??? Are they intent on losing money, or are they intent on building a GIANT, the likes of Xerox. Look at all of the moves in the past year, the creation of the PPBG (Print Production Business Group) the joint venture with InfoPrint from IBM, acquiring Hitachi Printing Systems and the collaboration with Kodak’s Nexpress for four different models.

From that day in Dallas (Ricoh Vision) when Ricoh announced that the Gestetner brand was gone, along with all Gestetner Dealers now moving to a NEW NATIONAL DEALER NETWORK, I thought there was going to be more to the picture. I had called a few friends and stated “what if”, the “what if” referred to smaller Ricoh Dealers, and or Dealers that were not maintaining their quotas. Could or would Ricoh step up and tell them you have two choices, you can still sell our products however you have to go under the Lanier National Network. How many dealers would fall to this 30% maybe 40% or even more, and how about if some of these Dealers where in major market areas? Wouldn’t it be correct to assume that Ricoh would then able to build a GIANT Direct Channel, control price, profits and would just have to deal with the likes of Canon, KonicaMinolta and Xerox Direct for the Major Accounts.

I’m not saying this is going to happen, but we all are still hearing the rumblings of another GIANT that is looking to protect and increase market share…..HP! Rumors abound that HP may buy IKON, look at what has happened in the last few months with IKON, they have been buying back stock, along with the stock taking a nose dive in recent weeks. The stock has dropped almost 50% in the last year! If HP buys Ikon, Ricoh is in serious trouble especially after Xerox buying Global last year. Canon on the other hand escapes since they manufacture almost all of the HP engines and consumables.

We’ve all have seen stranger things happen in this industry, and lets face it with Document Management Systems making tremendous growth in the last year along with companies jumping on the “Green” bandwagon, everyone is looking to decrease the amount of pages printed. Where is the growth? I’m no expert, however with all of the recent changes I tend to think it is in the very high end of the market (Production Printing) and very low end of the market (SOHO).
I guess we’ll all just have to wait, won’t we?

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