Rob Clark: printing priorities

Executive interview: Printing priorities with Rob Clark

Rob Clark: printing priorities

Name: Rob Clark

Company: Epson Europe

Position: Senior Vice President Epson Europe & Managing Director for the UK

HQ: Hertfordshire, UK

Employees: 1,700 (in Europe)

Epson Europe is on track to achieve its vision to become a more profitable and ecologically-friendly organisation.

Owned by the Japanese Seiko Epson Corporation, Epson Europe is leading the way in the manufacture of inkjet printers, scanners, projectors, robots and Augmented Reality smart glasses. Epson grew in the printer and projector boom years of the 90s and has successfully made it through an industry-wide consolidation in the 2000s by embracing the latest technological advances to grow and prosper. While many of its competitors haven’t been able to hold on, Epson has created a robust market position by staying true to its long-held values through creating truly innovative products and by listening to the wants and needs of its customers.

Rob Clark has been with Epson for 24 years and has been largely responsible for steering the company’s printer operations in UK and Europe. Now, as Senior Vice President for Europe and Managing Director for the UK, Rob has initiated a new phase of growth for Epson, with an ambitious, yet achievable, plan to grow revenues by 25% and reach €2 billion by 2020.

“It’s a challenging but achievable goal for us,” he notes, “and it will mean increasing the scale of the organisation. We have a pretty lean operation at the moment which I want to preserve, but now it is the time to invest in people who can help us achieve this growth. Over the last two years our team has increased by 130 people and I will continue to invest where I think it is necessary to realise our 2020 target.”

In rolling out this phase, Rob has three key areas of focus. The first is the organisation, to adequately prepare and structure it to ensure it is in the best shape to deliver the planned growth. The second is the customer: “It is crucial to constantly listen to, understand, and feed our customers’ needs and wants,” Rob says.

“It is crucial to constantly listen to, understand, and feed our customers’ needs and wants.” – Rob Clark

Then finally, the third focus is the product, which is manufactured by Epson and then distributed through the region’s dedicated network of channel partners. Environmental features and functions are becoming more and more of a priority, observes Rob, and in this respect the business is making serious moves to become more sustainable, as outlined in Epson’s 2050 vision.

“As an organisation, Seiko Epson Corporation has made a commitment to reduce emissions by 90 per cent by 2050. That cuts across the entire organisation, all the way from manufacturing through to product delivery. We are focusing on eco-technologies, like PaperLab, a world-first paper recycling machine designed for the office. It’s intended to change the way people think about printing in the office and to ultimately make the printing ecosystem more efficient. The PaperLab concept takes printed paper and turns it back into blank paper. So you’ll be printing, using normal paper on your office printer, but then rather than sending that paper off for shredding and recycling at the end of its lifecycle, you can put it into PaperLab and out of the other end comes plain reusable paper. The whole idea of PaperLab is a closed-loop ecosystem of printing and recycling, and our intention is that we will trigger more of an acceleration of this mentality to look after the environment.”

PaperLab isn’t the only innovation. Epson recently turned the printer industry on its head with the launch of its cartridge-free inkjet printers for consumers and businesses. 

Rob Explains “Rather than follow our competitors or focus on feeds and speeds, we listened to our customers who were very concerned about the cost of ink. In response we developed an alternative printer that has no ink cartridges but uses replaceable ink packs (for businesses) or bottles (for consumers). It costs slightly more up front but saves considerable sums of money in the medium term and provides at least two years’ worth of printing without the need to refill, and the refills bottles are very cheap.

“The industry was selling printers at rock bottom prices and making its money back on the cost of cartridges,” Rob adds. “This approach was unsustainable so we devised a far more transparent model that reflected the true cost of the printer while at the same time offering our customers some real eco benefits – meaning far less waste, much lower energy consumption and an end to expensive cartridges.”  

“As an organisation Seiko Epson Corporation has made a commitment to reduce emissions by 90 per cent by 2050.” – Rob Clark

“We’re shifting the market from technologies that use a lot of power and have high CO2 emissions, and developing far cleaner technologies, such as inkjet-based printers. We recently launched an ecological awareness campaign in Germany for which we calculated the impact of the market shifting from laser to Epson business inkjet technology. The results are staggering, for example if every business in Germany was to switch from laser to inkjet printers it would save enough energy to power about 170,000 homes, reduce carbon emissions equivalent to 11 million new trees, and eliminate 70,000 tonnes of waste from packaging used in consumables from laser printers. As you will understand this is a really significant improvement, and is achievable just by introducing new and more ecologically-friendly technology into our workplaces.”

As a channel-based business, Epson works closely with its partners to encourage this ecological approach and to change the way offices in Europe, and around the world, think about printing. “We only work with companies that share the same values we have,” Rob says. “It’s about ensuring we deliver products to our customers that they truly value, and rounding that off with the right services to support their business needs. It comes down to a partnership approach where all parties achieve good business together. That’s what we’re here for, and we are looking to team up with like-minded companies that share the same values as the Epson brand.”

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