Fujifilm-Xerox deal is a great development for print industry: Balaji Rajagopalan

Balaji Rajagopalan

The announcement of Fujifilm taking over Xerox that came in January this year is a development of great importance for the print industry, says Balaji Rajagopalan, executive director, technology, channels and international distributor operations, Xerox India.

“It is really too early to comment on the kind of impact it might have on Indian operations, but the fact is that two companies of such great stature in the print industry coming together is a great development. With revenue of about US$ 18 billion, the combined entity will compete really well in the market with world-class capability to innovate,” he shares.

In January this year, it was announced that Japan’s Fujifilm will take over Xerox in a US$ 6.1 billion deal, combining the U.S. company into their existing joint venture. Fujifilm currently owns 75% of Fuji Xerox, the joint venture which is multi-decades old and sells photocopying products and services in the Asia-Pacific region. Fuji Xerox will buy back that stake from Fujifilm for around US$ 6.1 billion and use the proceeds to purchase 50.1% of new Xerox shares. The deal is expected to be complete by the middle of this year.

Success of Versant series in 2017
The year 2017 was a tough year for the economy with the double impact of demonetization and GST being felt across industries. Even the print industry was hit hard but according to Balaji, the impact was momentary, especially in the digital print industry.

“Yes, demonetization definitely affected the industry in early 2017 but that was for a short duration. In fact, Xerox India closed the year on a positive note as we achieved good growth,” Balaji says.

According to him, Versant series has been a runaway success in India. “Versant series, especially the Versant 180 and Versant 3100, are ruling the roost in the mid segment. These models have seen improvements over the previous generation of Versant. Features such as full width array, auto calibration and EFI engine, among others have become very popular in the industry. Some of the features found in the Versant series can only be found in IGen kind of machines,” Balaji shares.

Xerox announced the launch of Versant 180 and Versant 3100 last year. The two models replaced the Versant 80 and 2100 presses. The Versant 180 has a maximum print speed of 80 pages per minute and takes paper weights up to 350 gsm. The papers include coated, uncoated, labels, envelopes, tabs, transparencies, ID cards, posters and special substrate like linen, poly, vinyl and magnet stock. The Versant 3100 prints at a speed of 100 pages per minute on stocks and specialty media from 52–350 gsm. The EFI Fiery 180 Print Server NX Pro drives the Versant 180 while the NX Premium drives Versant 3100.

Xerox’s Nuvera series too has seen good response in India, especially in the text book printing, variable data printing and publishing segments. Balaji states that Xerox’s D series printers had a very good run in the fourth quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. The D series is made up of mono digital printers with models D95, D110 and D125, which combine copying and print functionality; and the D110 and D125 as solely light production printers.

New offering in second half of 2018
With many solutions being recently launched in the Indian market, Xerox expects the success achieved by Versant, Nuvera and D series in 2017 to continue in 2018 as well.

“Since our portfolio is very new, we expect the successes of 2017 to continue in 2018 as well. However, without offering any significant details I can say that the market should be looking out for some interesting new product launches from Xerox in the second half of this year,” discloses Balaji.

Growth in tier 2 & 3 cities
Xerox India currently has its biggest market in South India followed by West India and then North India, and tier 2 and 3 cities constitute a major focus area for the company in all three regions.

“Tier 2 and 3 cities have been in our focus for a few years now and we have been appointing partners on a regular basis with a lot of success. For example, if you go to Kerala, you will find Xerox solutions in very small towns,” Balaji says.

According to him, the reasons for growth of digital printing in tier 2 and 3 are increased awareness about latest technological offerings and cost-effective solutions from digital printing solutions providers even for printers with small volumes.

“With digital printing base still very small compared to offset, the rate of growth in digital printing segment will be strong, both in bigger as well as smaller cities,” he concludes.




2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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