Ricoh Australia cuts staff and partners and sunsets Lanier brand in reorganisation

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Ricoh Australia cuts staff and partners and sunsets Lanier brand in reorganisation

Details of sweeping changes at Ricoh Australia continue to surface, as managerial staff leave the business, several print dealer partnerships end and the Lanier brand, acquired in 2014, is retired.

CRN understands that staff departures across both Ricoh and Lanier number around 70. The vendor revealed it had reduced its number of print resellers from 96 to about 72.

The restructure comes as Ricoh seeks to position itself more in the IT services market as the print industry stays flat. In February the vendor hired Fuji Xerox veteran Andy Berry to lead Ricoh Australia.

The news follows initial departures reported by CRN in May, when it was revealed executive team members Nick Mills, David Berryman and Joe Ciliberto would leave the business.

Berry told CRN changes to the top layer had seen the executive team shrink from 13 to eight, with some new positions created. He said the reorganisation was part of a plan to streamline the business.

“There are three key changes that I wanted to really come about over the next few months on for the year,” he said.

“One is better alignment with our customers, the second was to streamline decision making and the third was to be more agile. None of those things will surprise you because every business in the 21st century is having to go through that.

"And any business that has its roots back in the 20th century has got some certain things in place that worked very well in the past but aren’t necessarily appropriate for the future.”

Berry said one of the most fundamental changes after reorganising the executive was the creation of a general manager of operations, a key new role that is central from “the point where our customers decide to commit to a relationship with us, through to the point at which they’re receiving service”.

Of the more recent reductions, Berry said a "spans and layers" review effectively determined too many layers of management, particularly in light of the retiring of the Lanier business.

“I think in places we just had too many spans and layers, and part of the problem there is, you’ve got all this talent lower down in the business, touching the customer or being technical experts, and if you’ve got too many layers of management above it, it squashes its ability to innovate, to be creative, to move fast,” he said.

Berry said reducing the dealer footprint will better allow Ricoh to service partners as new technology solutions start to come out.

“We’re reorganising ourselves to have a smaller dealer channel, in terms of the partner ecosystem, but one that’s more focused on Ricoh, and that obviously has implications back up the supply chain – going from two brands to one – everything from marketing, warehousing, logistics, distribution, purchasing, it’s just streamlined things,” he said.

“That’s one way of becoming more efficient, but also a way to then help our channel partners get up to speed fast and more effectively with the new technology suites and solutions that are coming out.”

Ricoh is also expanding the IT smarts in its reseller base. The company told CRN it had added 30 dealers with a greater mix of print and IT services, as the company builds on its managed print solutions heritage to add unified communications, document management solutions, IT services and collaborative communications technologies.

Geoff Augutis, chief executive of four-time CRN Fast50 company Queensland Computers, is one such IT dealer. He said the shift was a necessary force for the better of the industry.

"I think everyone knows the print industry is changing. I haven't only dealt with Ricoh in the past; we've dealt with lots of companies where everybody's sat down at the table and said, 'The print industry is changing, it's not what used to be. We need to integrate with other technologies we need to become solutions providers', and you'll be seeing that across all vendors," he said.

"We took on Ricoh about 12 months ago, and we've had really good success with the brand given that they do have a focus and a structure around IT solutions, connectivity and document management solutions; all those things that a lot of other vendors in the past have said they do very well but really don't – they just sell printers and toner.

"We work a lot the education market and the Ricoh offering around the collaborative technology is quite strong as well. They've got quite good software and interactive whiteboards that go along with it.

"And obviously not all customers appreciate those things, some people just want a copier and a printer, but for customers that need the more advanced solutions, when you're going up against somebody that doesn't have it, it makes a huge difference."

Berry told CRN that Ricoh's staff restructuring was done for the time being, with the exception of a few handovers finishing up over the next couple of weeks.

The printing industry has stagnated in recent years, with office equipment sales flat and the number of pages of print per device on the decline.

The trend has seen upheavals and consolidation at other big print vendors like Fuji Xerox, which recently separated from several master dealers, and Samsung, which last year sold its printer division to HP Inc for US$1 billion.

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