08 September 2019 Digital Printing Technologies

Ricoh builds team for litho to digital conversion

With two high profile appointments announced last week, Ricoh Europe is starting to push inkjet printing to a litho print market.

Ricoh Europe is building the team to sustain its drive to grow its production printing division by leading the transformation from offset to digital.

This area is earmarked for 20% a year growth to 2022 while existing transactional printing and print on demand areas edge forwards. It wants to increase revenues in production printing from ¥186.3 billion to ¥225.0 billion by 2022, with the lino’s share of that coming as digital processes snatch volume from litho.

It has recruited Juergen Freier, the former Heidelberg executive and Polar CEO, as director commercial print sales for Ricoh Europe’s commercial printing group. After Heidelberg, Freier joined publisher Geruner & Jahr before moving to Prinovis, then Polar and most recently HP where he was EMEA general manager for Indigo and webfed inkjet. He joins on 1 November and reports to Eef de Ridder, vp commercial printing.

De Ridder has also persuaded Mark Hinder to join Ricoh Europe in a key sales consultancy role pre and post sales for the inkjet business. This builds on the role he had in change of sales of the B2 sheetfed KM-1 UV inkjet press across Europe.

He will report to business innovations and solutions director Erwin Busselot and will work alongside a team that already includes Tim Taylor to promote continuous feed inkjet. Hinder will not be drawn on whether this is also an indication that Ricoh is preparing to launch a B2 sheetfed inkjet press.

The company has the ability to build this style of machine and now departed director Peter Williams would bring a machine to market when it feels the time is right. Heidelberg, Ricoh partner for cut sheet digital presses, has also suggested a B2 digital press is on its way.

During this year’s presentation day to investors, Sergio Kate, general manager of the commercial print business group, said that Ricoh and rivals had so far failed to satisfy demand for print quality and productivity and this had been the barrier to full scale offset to digital transition. That Ricoh is anticipating strong growth because this transition is now taking place perhaps signals that it is poised with machines to enable the switch. The Pro VC70000 is the continuous feed press that will drive this, offering higher productivity and higher quality through a new ink able to print on any stock and faster than the Pro VC60000.

“What excited me about Ricoh is that there is a clear vision and strategy and a very solid business plan. And in order to execute on this plan there has been a need for people with experience in certain markets and certain areas.

“My role is to put together programmes before the customer makes the investment and after the investment. Many printers do not have robust business or marketing plans which they need for making the investment in this sort of technology.”

This indicates that these are not the last appointments that Ricoh Europe will make as it strives to be at the forefront of the offset to digital change.

By Gareth Ward

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Ricoh is expanding its team to promote its products, specifically existing and forthcoming inkjet products, to the commercial print sector where the company is predicting substantial growth in the next few years.

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