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New EFI chief makes innovation pledge

Wednesday, 23 January 2019
By Wayne Robinson

Execute innovation: EFI CEO Bill Muir at Connect 2019

Giving his opening address at his first EFI Connect, the company’s new CEO Bill Muir pledged that the company would continue its drive to enable printers to exploit the myriad opportunities emerging in the modern era.

He said, “My aim at EFI is to provide print businesses with innovation which they can successfully execute in the digital age.”

Muir quoted legendary General Electric CEO Jack Welch, who said that business that change slower on the inside than technology on the outside were in trouble, while those that kept pace with technological innovation would emerge as the winners.

Muir was speaking on the eve of his 100th day in the job, as only the company’s third CEO in its 30 year existence, following founder Efi Arazi, and Guy Gecht, who stepped down in October after a 17 year stint at the top.

He said that while traditional litho print was continuing its decline new digital print was rising strongly, and that the evidence showed that ‘print is here, there and everywhere’. He pointed to home décor as a prime example of a new opportunity for commercial printers.

Muir was speaking at the 20th EFI Connect, the world’s largest graphic arts user group event, which sees almost 2000 printers from around the world converge on the Wynn, Las Vegas, for four days of insight, discussion, product launches, and training.

Platinum sponsors are Ricoh and Xerox, with OneVision and Zund the Gold sponsors, and about 20 other developers as bronze sponsors.

Muir said he was ‘humbled’ to be working with printers who are in second, third or fourth generation family businesses, and promised to focus on ensuring EFI continues to provide printers with the means to meet their customers evolving needs.

He said the figure showed that while traditional print was in decline digital print and value added services were on the rise. He said, “Mr responsibility as CEO is to keep the innovation engine at EFI moving strongly.

“Together we are changing print’s DNA. The stakes are high, we can inspire the world with spectacular imagery, I want us to fuel the future together.”

Muir has faced headwinds coming into the top job. EFI’s revenue for the fourth quarter of 2018 is down by approximately $12 million on the previous year’s record results, with the industrial inkjet sector taking the brunt of the shortfall. Industrial inkjet declined by approximately five to six per cent year-on-year, according to EFI’s preliminary fourth-quarter results; the official results will be released on 31 January.

“Late in the quarter we began seeing a substantial shift in buying behavior versus the prior year in many of the industries we serve. This was felt most significantly in the Americas. Customers became increasingly concerned about economic trends and many decided to defer capital expenditures until they had greater clarity on the economic environment,” said Muir. “Though we entered the quarter with a robust pipeline and our Inkjet sales progress through mid-December was tracking ahead of the prior year, the last few weeks of the quarter were exceptionally weak.”

The four day Connect event will see a host of sessions on a variety of topics for the delegates.

EFI is just short of a US$1bn company, with three main divisions of inkjet, Fiery, and software solutions. Of these inkjet is the largest at around 60 per cent of company revenue, it produces print hardware systems for paper, vinyls and board, glass, wood, ceramics and fabric. Fiery represents about 25 per cent of income, with software solutions around 15 per cent.

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