Fujifilm Introduces Apeos Series: New Name, Decades of Printer Expertise

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New name, decades of experience

Fujifilm has recently launched a range of office printers in the UK. But while the name might be new to the UK, the company has decades of experience in manufacturing printers behind it – and Fujifilm is now looking to channel partners to help spread this message.

April saw the entry of a new name into the UK office printer market – Fujifilm. The Japanese company – more famous here for its camera film – has launched its Apeos series of multifunction office printers (MFPs) in Europe for the first time.

The UK launch is part of a wider introduction into Western European markets, including Italy – where the range also launched in April – France and Spain over the coming months.

Fujifilm Business Innovation is the number one supplier of A3 MFPs in the Asia Pacific region, with Fujifilm technology powering millions of office printers across the globe. But none of these devices had been available under the Fujifilm brand except in the Asia Pacific region until now.

The Apeos series is built on Fujifilm’s decades of print and imaging expertise, and designed for the modern workplace, including remote/mobile printing capabilities, superior security features and exceptional sustainability credentials. Apeos has also been designed to support digital transformation (see box out).

Long history

While Fujifilm is a new name to the UK printer market, as Hiro Matsui, Fujifilm Europe manager explains, in other parts of the world it is a long-established and well-respected name in printer manufacturing.

“We have more than 60 years of history in printers,” he says. “While we’re newcomers to the UK, we’re not newcomers in other ways; we’ve got a long heritage in developing this technology.”

Fujifilm’s history goes back to 1962, when a joint venture between Fujifoto Film and Rank Xerox established Fuji Xerox. Using Xerox’s position as a leader in the copier market, it enabled the company to establish a foothold in the office printer market in the Asia-Pacific region.

The partnership lasted until 2019 when Fujifilm acquired Xerox’s stake in Fuji Xerox. In 2020, Fujifilm announced it would not renew its technology agreement with Xerox, effectively ending the joint venture. In the following April, Fuji Xerox rebranded as Fujifilm Business Innovation.

Now, the company is expanding into Europe with the Apeos range. “A key strength is this isn’t something that’s just suddenly happened,” says Hiro. “Fujifilm is an established player in the market evolving expanding its reach and they’re ahead of all the competition.”

Apeos

Gary Organ, head of device technology sales UK at Fujifilm, adds that the name – it is Latin for open office system – is apposite as it is descriptive of the company’s approach to sales.

“We have technology that will allow us to embed other applications and be very open to the market, perhaps more so than other vendors,” he says. “The logo that sits next to the Apeos brand is to represent a bridge, which represents a bridge to the goal for us and for our partners. And showing us the way to the shared goal. Those things combined is about us assisting and supporting our customers and partners towards their goal, being that trusted advisor and having an open approach in doing that.”

Gary adds there are three key highlights to the Apeos range. The first is reliability. “We’ve got market leading technology, which has been proven over a significant period of time,” he says. They also have an intuitive user interface. “It’s a user-friendly interface and operation, which is consistent across the entire platform. They’re responsive and operate quickly, which makes them really easy to use.”

Sustainability is also an important consideration, he adds. “It’s got smart power saving, low temperature toner technology, which means the fusing temperature can be reduced, and circular production system technology. We’re really focusing on ensuring that the tech and our approach to the market minimises our impact on the environment.”

The final highlight is device security. “Asia Pacific is a quite challenging region politically,” he says. “A lot of countries distrust with one another in that region. To be able to crack that market, you must be extremely secure. The devices need to have multiple layers of security to give you the best offences possible in that market.

“The devices work with the likes of Papercut, YSoft, Kofax (now Tungsten), Vasion and MyQ, as well as various Scan technologies too, because we have those relationships in Asia Pacific. We’re going to develop further the developer kit so that we can have a broader platform technology on board, but we’re going to integrate with the existing market leaders as well.”

Ways to sell

Gary adds that the Apeos printers are aimed at the office market. “It can fulfil a purpose in the office as a departmental device where people require high quality printing functions, or they might need a hub device. But equally, it can also be used as a light production machine in the creative space.

“The print resolution is market leading with 1,200×2,400dpi all the way up to 70 pages per minute. That’s because the technology has been taken from our production devices.

“This means that the printers can do banner printing with these printers, which could be ideal for those in educational spaces or SMEs that might want to do their own graphics in-house.”

No direct sales

As a new entrant to the UK market, Fujifilm don’t have any intention to sell directly to customers, preferring to develop relationships with channel partners, including the servicing of devices, according to Hiro. “This will be core in the beginning,” he says.

In addition, Hiro says there will be some synergy with the existing Fujifilm sales entity in the UK, which has been here for nearly 50 years. “We will utilise Fujifilm’s existing sales entities also to organise our product distribution,” he says.

He adds that there will be a brand awareness campaign in the UK in the coming months. “Our mission is to be considered by our partners in every opportunity,” he says. “We want to be the manufacturer that everybody wants to lead with. We want our partners to give Fujifilm a chance in every opportunity that they go into. That’s a big ask, but this is a mission, it’s an aspirational goal.

“But if we’re working to the level that we believe we can, we hope that can be achieved. Our go-to-market approach is a channel-only business model. We are focused on recruitment, initially, of traditional partners with a service capability. We’re building a business from scratch. As we don’t have a direct operation in the UK, is we need to ensure that we build a self-sufficiency model.

“We are building a model where we can deliver training capabilities to our partners for them to be self-sufficient in the market. That helps our partners because that delivers an ability for them to leverage their capabilities in the market and they can commercially develop that to make more money from the technology as well.”

Hiro adds that Fujifilm intend to have a balance of nationwide, regional and small partners. “We intend to have some partners that can cover the whole or most of the country, some partners that might be regional – covering the Northwest, Northeast or just London, then there’ll be smaller partners that operate only in Cornwall or Devon, for instance,” he says.

“We need to have a mixture because in some regions small businesses only deal with local people and they will have a much better connexion rate in that SME space. The regional businesses typically operate in the high-end SME, maybe low corporate, and they have a better reach in that space.

“Then you have the nationwide partners that are going for large tenders, etc. It’s to give us a balance, but a good geographical split to give us a reach across the entire country and ensure that we’ve got service coverage nationally too. We also want to target various vertical markets based on different partners’ capabilities.”

Hiro adds that this onboarding of partners will be completed in the coming months. He adds that partners will have a direct relationship with Fujifilm for hardware purchases, while suppliers will go through distribution. “This is just because of the number of moving parts in the supplier’s business, and these distributors do that on a regular basis, working with the partners, that’s what they do, so it makes life a lot easier for us,” he says.

“We’re going to build a channel team that will cover sales, service, support and marketing. And that’s our mission for 2024 to 2026.”

Honesty, integrity, trust

But as well as the quality of the printers and back-up that Fujifilm offers, Hiro says it is the values of the company that they will look to sell to partners and end users. “Our focus is on honesty, integrity and trust,” he says. “We want to be the partner that you can depend upon. We want our partners to feel like they can trust us, work with us and grow with us. Overall, it is about being reliable. We want to be seen as the reliable brand.

“It isn’t just about reliability of the products, but reliability for our channel partners and to develop a business model that allows mutual growth. Our partners need to be able to grow with us and there needs to be capacity to grow. We want to do that through innovation, through expansion in the market and by opening new avenues for our partners.”

Partner programme

Gary adds that Fujifilm will focus on its core products and solutions initially, and giving channel partners the tools and the assets that they are going to need to be able to sell successfully to the marketplace. “That’s things like partner portals to give partners access to all the materials they need. That’s already live and running,” he says.

“We’ve already developed a partner programme that will launch in July to give a structure and an infrastructure to the way in which we transact with our partners, which will include benefits and rewards, as well as targets and accreditation levels that they have to achieve. This will give reassurance to end users that they can choose a partner of a certain level of credibility and capability. In terms of channel engagement, we’ll be looking to do engagement through social media on different platforms, as well as through the sector media.

“We are going to gradually expand in line with our resource, but equally, we’ve got really strong growth ambitions, so we need to act quickly. Phase one is traditional print partners. Phase two, we will look to look at IT resellers, MSPs and the like.

“Once the partner programme has launched, we’ll start to onboard further partners. We’ll have conversations with partners in due course, with more gradual, organic onboarding of partners from October, November onwards.

“We’ll be looking to appoint people to channel marketing and product marketing roles in due course too.”

First partner

Fujifilm has already announced its first nationwide partner, Aurora. “We are partnering with Aurora because their core values align with ours,” says Hiro. “They focus on honesty, integrity, customer focus, innovation and partnership. Those were the key standout reasons in our decision to partner with them.

“They’ve got a nationwide business and service coverage, which gives us the reassurance that they can manage opportunities for us from day one across the UK, and they’ve already got their service engineers trained up. We’ve gone through that process, and so they’ve got trained service capability nationwide. And we’ve already gone through a training process with their sales community as well, so they are ready to go live.

“Aurora is a leading player in the market, with a turnover of about £50 million and they have got growth ambitions to grow that, through 2024 and beyond.”

Get involved

Hiro adds that Fujifilm are looking for partners and encourages businesses in the channel to reach out to them – although they are looking for those that fulfil certain criteria.

“In the initial phase, we are looking for traditional partners with service capability because we don’t have the direct service capability ourselves,” he says. “That’s key because we’re trying to avoid potential partners talking to us and being disappointed. We’ve got some initial conversations for the coming weeks and months; our ambition is to have a significant pipeline of partners.”

Gary adds that, speaking from his years of experience in the channel, if you create a business model that gives the partners the capability to have self-sufficiency, they can commercialise that self-sufficiency. “They can add their USP around their local understanding of the area, and their capability to do local delivery of technology and servicing with the support of a global brand,” he says.

Key messages

Gary and Hiro are both enthusiastic about the potential for Fujifilm, and its partners in the channel, to grow and make major inroads into the UK market.

They believe that with the technology they provide – backed up by the company’s 60 years of heritage in the sector – customers will be willing to buy their products and buy into their ethos.

“The key thing is to get that message out to partners and end users as there will be some out there that are not familiar with Fujifilm and its heritage and being the number one brand in Asia Pacific,” says Hiro. “They’re the key messages for us that we need to promote. Because once customers understand that, it’s a lot easier for to take the leap of faith, as it will feel like a company that they’ve always known, perhaps just under a different banner.

“Fujifilm is a global brand with the ability to expand our reach further than Asia Pacific. We’ve already done that in Mexico, South Africa and India with great success and now we’re expanding into Europe.

“Japanese companies always intend to have long-term relationships with their partners, and we want to being that commitment to the UK.”