Ricoh sets out ambitious growth plan

By Jo Francis, Monday 26 November 2018

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These must be interesting times for everyone who works at, or with, Ricoh.

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Not too long ago if the name Ricoh was mentioned to a printing industry professional, the products that would probably come immediately to mind would have been the Pro-series of electrophotographic sheetfed digital presses – also sold under the Versafire brand by Heidelberg – and Ricoh’s range of high-speed continuous feed inkjet printers under the InfoPrint and Pro VC60000 marques. 

In the decade that has passed since Ricoh entered the production printing market at Drupa 2008, a lot has changed. And, specifically, a lot more has changed since fresh chief executive Yoshinori Yamashita took the helm of the business 19 months ago. 

During his first financial year (ending March 2018) Yamashita rolled out his ‘Ricoh Resurgent’ strategy aimed at getting the business in the right shape to deliver growth. 

Now, the group has entered the ‘Ricoh Ignite’ phase that will run to the end of the 2020 financial year, to be followed by ‘Take Off’ through to 2023, which includes some pretty peppy sales and profitability targets.  

Yamashita wants to grow Ricoh’s commercial and industrial printing ops (including its thermal media business) from 12% of sales to 20% of the group by March 2023, backed with a ¥100bn (£688m)investment in mergers and acquisitions specifically in this part of the business. 

He expects overall group sales including office printing, consumer products and healthcare, to grow from ¥2.03bn to ¥2.3bn; and perhaps more importantly, has set an operating margin goal of 8%, a substantial increase on the 1.7% margin achieved in 2017. 

Developments, and M&A activity, on the print side have certainly moved on apace this year (see boxout). At Fespa in May, Ricoh showcased the many and various different products that could now be printed using Ricoh technology. It showed its first flatbed wide-format printer and previewed a new latex roll-to-roll printer that was officially launched last month. Also on the booth was a direct-to-garment printer developed following its acquisition of AnaJet. 

Since then, Ricoh has moved into other new areas, including printing onto large, three-dimensional objects with the acquisition of LAC Corporation. LAC’s systems can print directly onto cars, trucks, aircraft, tyres and glass bottles. The vast majority of sales are currently in Japan, and Ricoh insiders see a great opportunity to expand that to other markets using Ricoh’s network. 

The same thing applies for colour measurement firm ColorGate, Ricoh’s most recent buy. It is strong in Europe and is now expected to grow in Asia Pacific and the US on the back of Ricoh’s presence there. 

Ricoh is also making it easier for developers to use its inkjet know-how, with the recent Coloreel partnership a perfect example.

“In the industrial area the supply chain is very fragmented, and you need a myriad of relationships for heads, inks, drives, software and ink delivery,” explains head of commercial inkjet business Graham Kennedy. “The fewer relationships a developer can have, the more they can accelerate time to market. We’ve done that to great effect with Coloreel.”

Ricoh corporate vice-president Peter Williams believes the business is well-placed to capitalise on its expanding reach. “We’re probably in a unique position, because we can go to not only traditional manufacturers such as Heidelberg, where we’re partnering with someone who’s recognised as the best in their chosen analogue field and then work with them to leverage their brand and customer base. We can also do the same in wallpaper, or textiles,” he says. 

Indeed, Yamashita has highlighted those two markets as examples of where Ricoh could grow its business while also fulfilling its corporate goal to benefit society by driving sustainability: reducing the huge amount of polluted waste water created by conventional textile printing methods; and using a digital print-on-demand model to dramatically reduce inventory waste in wallcoverings. 

Ricoh has come a long way in 10 years, but over the coming five it intends to go further still. 


RICOH: RAMPING UP

Nov 2018 Agrees to buy German colour measurement specialist ColorGate

Oct 2018 Buys cloud-based billing software developer MakeLeaps

Oct 2018 Acquires industrial printing specialist LAC Corporation

May 2018 Previews first own-brand latex printer at Fespa

May 2018 Partners with Coloreel on ‘revolutionary’ inkjet-powered embroidery system 

Feb 2018 Yamashita unveils ‘Ricoh Ignite’ group growth strategy

April 2017 Yoshinori Yamashita appointed president and CEO

Jan 2017 Acquires MIS developer Avanti Systems

Mar 2016 Signals intention to enter wide-format printing market with Mimaki OEM deal

Jan 2016 Acquires direct-to-garment printer manufacturer AnaJet

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