Red Sofa Interview with Antonio Perez, CEO Kodak
»drupa will continue to serve as a milestone event in the graphic communications industry.«
Kodak has been undergoing a deep digital transition for several years and has invested heavily in digital technologies, including inkjet. With a strong marketshare in digital printing and in commercial printing and new upcoming partnerships, the company is well prepared for drupa 2012 and the future.
By Andrea Köhn.
Mr. Perez, worldwide the graphic arts industry has to deal with big changing processes in term of market structure and in terms of technology. How does this affect the business of your company?
It’s a very exciting time in the industry and at Kodak. As we look across the globe and ahead to 2012, we see the dynamic transformation of the print market continuing to accelerate. The industry is experiencing double-digit growth rates in digital pages, printers are expanding their business into multi-channel communications, publishers are embracing new book publishing models, brand owners are driving explosive growth in packaging, and there is strong growth for both offset and digital printing in emerging markets. Kodak is the only company serving every one of these segments of the market with our expansive portfolio of integrated solutions and a relentless focus on partnerships. We continue to develop breakthrough products such as the game-changing Prosper continuous inkjet platform and Kodak’s award-winning flexographic technology. We are focused on helping our customers find new ways to grow their business, improve their efficiency and productivity, expand their capabilities, and boost their bottom line. And Kodak’s Business Advantage Solutions feature service professionals dedicated to helping customers build their businesses, optimize the applications they offer and solutions they utilize, and enhance the performance of our products.
Kodak has been undergoing a deep digital transition for several years now. Can you give us a brief view of the development of Kodak’s business in the past years?
Over the past five years, Kodak has invested heavily in digital technologies, including inkjet. Maintaining our focus on digital solutions in the commercial market, we’ve developed partnerships and acquisitions to strengthen our position and become a market leader. In fact, today more than 40 percent of commercially printed pages are touched by Kodak technology, and more than 30 percent of all digital offset plates are imaged on Kodak CTP devices. These numbers will continue to grow.
Do you see different market trends in Japan, Asia and India in comparison with the markets in Europe, the US or, for example, in Latin America?
We live in a hyper-connected world today, and many of the developing markets around the world present exciting opportunities for the graphic communications industry. As literacy rates rise throughout parts of Asia, Africa, and South America, newspapers are increasing in circulation and books of all kinds are in higher demand. And the technology from companies like Kodak helps to make those printed materials more affordable, accessible, and impactful. In the first half of 2011, more than 5.5 million books have been printed on the Kodak Prosper Press Platform. Similarly, consumers with rising incomes in areas of Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America are buying more packaged goods than at any other time, which creates exciting opportunities in package printing. Kodak’s award-winning flexographic and offset technologies are well positioned to drive packaging in these growth areas.
Digital printing is one of the most powerful technologies for the future in the printing industry. Can you give the readers a brief overview about Kodak’s wide range of solutions for the different market segments?
Kodak is one of the only manufacturers to offer such a wide range of imaging technologies, making it easy for customers to find the right solution for their current needs and giving them a clear path for growth. Commercial print, publishing, packaging, and enterprise customers are using market-leading Kodak digital printing technology to deliver new applications and added value to their clients on a daily basis. Kodak’s digital printing portfolio delivers three differentiating values: upgradeability, reliability and profitability. For example, our electrophotographic presses and inkjet presses and components can be easily upgraded as a customer’s business grows and requirements change. Longer uptime and ease-of-maintenance contribute to reliability. And our presses feature unique characteristics and capabilities, such as dimensional printing in our NexPress line and the ability to print on coated stocks with our Prosper color presses, which allow customers to produce relevant applications that can make their businesses more profitable.
What are Kodak’s strategic plans and target groups in terms of high speed inkjet printing?
Commercial inkjet is a strategic growth initiative for Kodak and represents a significant opportunity for the industry as well. Having pioneered continuous inkjet printing technology with more than 40 years of innovation, Kodak has one of the largest installed bases of color roll-fed inkjet devices worldwide. Our newest Versamark systems with the next generation of DOD printheads offer the industry’s smallest footprint and innovative single-engine design. And our Prosper S-Series imprinting systems are driving new opportunities in the fast-growing hybrid printing market. For printers looking to maximize their offset investments while offering new digital services, the Prosper S-Series includes a range of speeds and resolutions to address those needs. The Prosper Press platform offers the highest quality and speeds for applications in commercial print, publishing, and direct mail. Our continuous inkjet technology is modular and scalable, allowing us to design solutions for any customer, driving increased revenue and new business opportunities.
Let’s talk about NexPress. How does this business develop?
Electrophotographic printing represents a huge part of the color digital printing market today, and Kodak’s NexPress family offers more differentiated capabilities than any other press out there. We continue to advance the NexPress line with unique tools and features that customers are using to stand out from their competitors. The new NexPress SX Platform prints on more than 700 standard offset substrates, offers 26-inch long sheet capability, and features the Fifth Imaging Unit Solution for watermarking, protection coating, glossing, MICR printing, gamut expansion, dimensional printing, and red fluorescing ink. We are very proud that in a recent independent study by SpencerLab, the NexPress SX Digital Production Color Press achieved an overall highest rating in print quality, demonstrating the best all-round performance across the majority of attributes achieved. Most importantly, our customers appreciate the upgradability that we build into each NexPress press, so no matter how their business grows and changes, they can be sure the NexPress will fit their needs.
One big business field for Kodak is the CTP and printing plate business. How is the market developing in technology, environmental aspects and the sales of printing plates?
Kodak is in a unique position to serve the needs of all graphic communications customers because we offer both innovative digital print and prepress solutions. Of the more than 70 trillion pages that were printed worldwide last year, approximately 68 percent of those were produced via offset. Offset printing will remain strong for years and we will continue to serve this important market with our broad portfolio of plates and CTP devices. Sales of plates and platesetters remain a strong and vital part of our business. We place a strong emphasis on helping customers enhance their sustainability, and our newest plate, the Trillian SP Thermal Plate, delivers up to a 70 percent reduction in processing chemistry over previous Kodak plates. We continue to focus on products that drive process improvement and operational efficiencies for our customers, as well as products that focus on the reduction or elimination of chemistry, energy, water and waste. Whether in printing, publishing, or packaging, our digital plates family offers outstanding quality and efficiency, allowing our customers to differentiate themselves and improve their bottom lines.
One big trend in our industry is the cooperation trend. Other big suppliers already announced partnerships, especially the manufacturers of offset printing machines, who try to move into the digital print and production business. Are you planning to cooperate with offset printing manufactures or other suppliers as well? Do you think such partnerships in business are the sine qua non to be able to develop new products and solutions and to find new markets?
We consider partnerships and collaboration essential to our strategy of providing integrated, customized solutions that help customers grow their businesses. From the time we brought multiple companies together to form Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group in 2005, we have embraced partnerships. We will have an expansive presence at drupa 2012 with solutions on dozens of partner stands. Our partnerships include integrating hardware and software from third parties into our equipment, and providing professional services and technical expertise to companies using our technology in their products. We also partner with resellers and distributors who sell our products to their customers. This has been a successful approach for us over the years and we will expand our partnerships and collaborations in the months and years ahead.
What in your opinion are the biggest challenges for Kodak in the future?
Our challenges are in fact our opportunities. Our core mission is to offer a range of intelligent imaging technologies, and we have been developing imaging innovations for many years. We will continue to focus our world-class R&D efforts on developing solutions that make it easier for people to interact and communicate. We will focus on improving business efficiency and productivity. And we will focus on partnering with customers to transform the world of imaging in ways many can’t even imagine. In short, Kodak will continue to do what it has always done—bring products and services to market that help our customers do more, do it better, and do it faster.
Would you tell us something about the new developments visitors from all over the world can expect from Kodak at drupa 2012?
We are in a challenging global economy and that means graphic arts professionals from all over the world are searching for practical solutions and expert guidance that will help them succeed. Our presence at drupa 2012 will spotlight our global customers who have grown their business and their bottom line by offering new capabilities and services, producing unique applications, and improving operational efficiencies by partnering with Kodak. drupa visitors from each of the markets we serve—commercial print, packaging, publishing and enterprise—will hear from customers talking about Kodak’s innovative solutions they can incorporate in their own businesses. We’ll have a number of significant announcements about new or enhanced technologies, solutions and expertise at the show. And we’ll have very exciting news about new partnerships in the key markets we serve.
Regarding the development of bigger trade shows in China and Asia, how would you rank the impact of drupa?
drupa will continue to serve as a milestone event in the graphic communications industry. Given its global reach and influence, we will base our marketing and business plans for Kodak around drupa during the year leading up to and following the show. The growth in emerging markets will lead to the growth of trade shows in places like China, Japan and India. Those shows will take on greater importance and influence in the years ahead—with drupa remaining the benchmark event.
Mr. Perez, many thanks for your time, it was nice speaking to you.