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Ricoh And Lanier Now One, Gestetner Brand To Be Dropped In U.S.

 

Ricoh took a major step forward in its merger with its Lanier Worldwide subsidiary last week. Combined, the two companies now exist as one legal entity, Ricoh Americas Corporation. The consolidation will bring about two additional changes to Ricoh as of April 1. One, the direct sales operations of Lanier will be combined with the Ricoh U.S. direct sales channel, and two, the Gestetner dealer network in the United States will merge with the Lanier dealer network and form a new national dealer network selling Lanier-branded products.

 

 Ricoh Is The Direct Sales Brand Choice

 

While the transition is expected to take from three to five years to complete, beginning on April 1, the direct sales operations of Lanier and Ricoh will become one under the name of Ricoh Business Solutions, with offices organized in seven different regions. Barry Ward, Lanier’s vice president of national sales, will head Ricoh Business Solutions as executive vice president.

 

With 70 direct sales districts, Lanier has a much larger direct sales operation than Ricoh, which has 15 Ricoh Business Systems branches—a key reason for the merger—but Ricoh has greater brand recognition worldwide. According to Nori Goto, vice chairman of Ricoh Americas Corporation and chairman and CEO of Ricoh U.S., once the company made the decision to have one direct sales brand, “Ricoh was the obvious choice.”

 

Gestetner Brand To Be Phased Out In U.S.

 

Because the Lanier brand is the better known brand in the United States—indeed, it has twice the brand recognition of Gestetner—all 213 Gestetner dealerships in the United States will now become Lanier dealerships, joining the 44 existing U.S. Lanier dealerships. Although the Gestetner brand will be phased out in the United States, it will remain in Europe. Savin dealerships and the Savin brand remain intact. Ricoh Americas Corporation will also continue to provide Ricoh- and Savin-branded hardware and software solutions through IKON Office Solutions, Inc.

 

How Dealers Will Benefit

 

Tom Salierno, president and COO of Ricoh U.S., said that Lanier dealers will benefit by “coming into an organization with a lot of experience with large independent dealer networks, and with managing multiple brands within them, as well as from an array of support programs they have not seen before.” For example, the new Lanier dealer network will benefit from a big investment in marketing and advertising support that will be on par with the support to which the Ricoh and Savin dealer channels are accustomed.

 

Gestetner dealers will also benefit by converting to a brand with significantly greater brand recognition than Gestetner, Salierno said. The official announcement was made at Gestetner’s national dealer meeting in Orlando, during which Ricoh arranged a conference call to share the news with members of the industry press. According to Ricoh Manager of Public Relations Russell Marchetta, the Dealer Council was previously aware of the plans and consequently the news did not come as a surprise to the majority of the dealers in attendance. He said that he didn’t hear a single negative reaction during the meeting, noting that Gestetner dealers welcomed the change because of the heightened level of support they will get. A television ad campaign is also being planned to promote the Lanier dealer channel, said Marchetta.

 

Competing Against Oneself?

 

In response to a question about the move’s effect on dealers, some of whom will now have a competing dealership selling the same brand in the same area, Alan Nielsen, vice president of the Indirect Sales and Major Accounts Division for Ricoh U.S., who will be executive vice president of the Ricoh U.S. Indirect Division, said that he believes the change “will have no impact on their margins or the competitive environment.” He said that as of April 1, dealers will face the same competition they faced prior to April 1. “While brand is always important, what’s most important is the reputation of the dealership and its relationships with its customers,” said Nielsen.

 

Ensuring A Seamless Transition

 

Lanier dealerships that have major and global accounts will continue to service those accounts through fiscal year 2007, while any new global or national placements will go through the new Ricoh Business Solutions direct sales branches or Ricoh dealers, according to Salierno. Beginning in the 2008 fiscal year, Lanier major and national accounts will be transitioned to Ricoh Business solutions or Ricoh dealers. Salierno stressed that the transition would be done very deliberately, on a dealer by dealer, case by case basis, to ensure that the transition would be seamless for Ricoh customers. 

 

While some direct sales branches in cities where both Ricoh and Lanier have a presence may be closed, Salierno said the new combined company expects to “continue with the number of sales people we have in the field.”

 

New Name Reflects New Era

 

While some staff reductions will occur—for example, there will now be only one set of dealer management and, due to the regionalization, some field support positions may be eliminated—Ricoh executives stressed that the objective of the reorganization is not to reduce cost but to improve the company’s market penetration. Sam Ichioka, chairman and CEO of the newly formed Ricoh Americas Corporation, noted that the new name of the unified company is indicative of a new era for Ricoh, which aims to become a Global Fortune 500 company and recently announced the formation of Ricoh Global Services. He said that with “a common vision and strategy, under a unified management team and incorporating the best practices from each of the companies, the new company would strengthen Ricoh’s position as a leader in the industry” not only in the United States, but also in North, South and Central America.

 

As part of the reorganization, Lanier Professional Services, which is the company’s facilities management business, remains intact but will become Ricoh Professional Services. Similarly, Lanier Financial Services will now become Ricoh Financial Services.    

©2014 Buyers Laboratory LLC