14 June 2020 People

Bar-Shany bows out as HP imposes direct rule

Alon Bar-Shany surprised staff and customers after stepping down from a leadership position he has held for 16 years, in what seems to be opposition to HP's search for job losses.

Alon Bar-Shany, general manager to HP Indigo, last week told a meeting that he was leaving after 16 years in charge of one of world’s the largest and most successful digital press providers.

Press reports in Israel, quoting unnamed sources, say that Bar-Shany had opposed plans for hundreds of job cuts in Indigo's manufacturing and R&D operations in the country. This is part of HP's overall cull of 16% of its staff worldwide in order to reduce its cost base, initiated by CEO Enrique Lores after he took on the role in October, at the height of the fight against the takeover bid from Xerox.

While Bar-Shany had been able to deflect reorganisation pressures in the past, the combination of stalled sales as a result of Covid-19 and the postponement of Drupa, which has previously been Indigo's springboard to boost orders and to show new products, have weakened his arguments.

The Indigo division is understood to be profitable, with revenue of $1.8 billion divided between hardware, software and consumables. It employs 2,800 in Israel and has 1,000 staff elsewhere in the world.

Under Bar-Shany's leadership, HP Indigo has become the leading supplier in each of the markets it operates in, digital commercial printing, digital labels and now digital printing of flexible packaging, where there is vast potential.

This is the target for the V12 concept press that HP Indigo expected to show as an advanced concept this week at Drupa. At this point it is vulnerable to a change in direction, assuming that HP takes a firmer grip on its independently minded division. There is also a clash between the PageWide inkjet technology being developed in the US and the continuing development of Indigo’s liquid electrophotographic technology, in commercial printing at least.

The PageWide T250 with Brilliant Ink, which was also due to make its debut at Drupa, is HP's closest inkjet press yet to litho quality printing, and is faster than Indigo's sheetfed machines. But they are not comparable, Bar-Shany told Print Business in an interview a few weeks ago. “Inkjet is getting a lot of attention and it definitely has its place, but we have the advantage when it comes to high colour coverage and being able to offer special inks. These are things that inkjet cannot do well,” he said.

Bar-Shany will remain for a hand over period with Haim Levit, who will take on the general manager role. He has more than 25 years with HP Indigo, starting as supply chain and procurement manager before leaving Israel to climb the corporate ladder in North America, becoming vice president and general manager of Indigo and Inkjet Solutions for North America and 2014, expanding that to all the Americas in 2017.

HP issued a statement announcing his appointment after the change was published in the Israeli press. “We are grateful to Alon for all he has done to make Indigo the market leader in digital printing and we will benefit from his many contributions to our business for years to come.”

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Alon Bar-Shany has stood down as HP Indigo's general manager, sending waves across the industry last week. He managed to retain the distinctiveness of the Indigo technology and brand, building a profitable operation with sales of $1.8 billion.

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