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Cut sheet colour prices stabilise

Friday, 13 April 2018
By Patrick Howard

A tentative degree of stability is emerging in the cutthroat world of cut sheet digital colour as prices hover around five cents per SRA3 sheet. The phenomenal drop in rates over the past 20 years has seen colour digital fall from nearly $1 per sheet at introduction to its present low level as the market commoditised under the pressure of emerging technologies and aggressive competition.

According to industry veteran, David Procter, sales director Konica Minolta, a floor may have been reached at the current five cents per colour sheet. “Look, the competition is still increasing, but there’s the feeling in the market that the costs have levelled out now at the five cents mark,” said Procter. “Paper costs are starting to rise. They’ll soon be more than the print.”

Having spearheaded Konica Minolta’s drive into production printing in 2006, Procter has an in-depth knowledge of the market. “I sense printers are recognising that it can’t fall much lower. I remember when colour sheets were selling for eighty to ninety cents a sheet not that long ago,” he said.

His comments come as Konica Minolta celebrates increasing its colour unit placements in the 60-100 ppm market share by 40 percent last year in the hyper competitive arena. “You have to remember this is in a market that’s declining overall. We’ve done well and we do have aggressive targets to meet this year.,” he said.

Procter made the statement as he introduced industry notable, Sue Threlfo, in her new role as general manager, production & industrial print, Konica Minolta (pictured above). “Sue is a great addition to our management team. She’s very well known and liked in the industry and she brings plenty of knowledge and experience to her role. She’s a natural fit for this important position,” he said.

With 20 years experience in commercial digital printing, mostly with Fuji Xerox, Threlfo said she feels as though she’s “come home” with her new position at the eclectic technology company. “It’s a great company to work for. The people here would walk over hot coals for the management people like David Cooke and David Procter.

“While the customer is central to everything we do, and our customers love us, the company is very staff friendly too. It’s a positive environment,” she said.

She takes up the reins as general manager as Konica Minolta celebrates its market share increase. In a very tough market, she attributes the success to a raft of new products – such as the AccurioPress C6100/C6085 – as well as the efforts of the sales team and Konica Minolta’s service organisation.

“I cannot speak too highly for the level of support our customer receive from our service organisation. Nothing is too much trouble for them. They make our job in sales so much easier,” she said.

She makes the point that Konica Minolta is one of the few companies in the industry that has not out sourced or offshored it customer support centre. “We don’t offshore that and we won’t. When a customer calls they speak with a Konica Minolta Australia employee. It’s a very different level of service,” she said.

Her responsibility for the industrial print portfolio puts her in the front line of print innovation. Following up on last year’s initial installation of the new KM-1 B2 digital press at Jossimo Print in Victoria, she confirms another sale of the flagship press. The second is currently being installed in an unnamed printing company in regional Victoria. She expects more to go in before the year is out.

“It’s important that we make sure every one is the right press for the customer. We’re not looking at large numbers, but for good installations,’ she said.

Other Konia Minolta industrial print products include the MGI JETvarnish as well as the AccurioLabel 190 label press. It’s part of a strategy of innovation promoted under David Cooke, managing director, who uses the metaphor of Pacific islands beset by rising seas levels. In this case it’s the declining print market. “Some choose to wait and do nothing, while others try to take action before they’re swamped. That’s what we’re doing,” he said.

The diversification of the Konica Minolta portfolio includes 3D printing as well as advanced robotics, in addition to its focus on production and industrial print.

But perhaps the most notable feature of the company for Sue Threlfo is the inclusive corporate culture, nurtured under Cooke. She highlights events that support diversity, such as ‘Harmony Day’ when staff dress in national costume and cook their national cuisine.

In addition she’s already been to Cambodia as part of Project Futures, supporting together1heart, an anti-slavery initiative supported by the company, management and staff. “It was a marvellous thing to do with the company. I’ve sponsored a young girl in Cambodia for years, so it was really great to be able to combine the two,” she said.

It does appear as though Sue Threlfo has found her spiritual as well as vocational home in Konica Minolta.

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