Seiko Epson’s chief executive bets on growth in the Middle East and Africa

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Yasunori Ogawa, the CEO, says the printing giant is looking to the Middle East and African markets as demand in its home market of Japan and other developed countries goes down.

The company saw a boost in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic as more people had to work from home and needed personal printers in some cases. However, Epson is in a stagnant phase in mature markets as populations decline and print less.

The Middle East, Turkey, and Africa stood out regarding growth numbers in fiscal 2022. After seeing success in India with a specialized subsidiary, the company opened a new base in Dubai in August to get more directly involved in managing its regional strategy.

What the near future looks like for Epson

Ogawa said in an interview on Friday after the company posted its fiscal results that its products are not yet widely distributed in the Middle East and that the company sees “tremendous potential there.”

The company’s operating income declined by almost 70% in the three months through September, forcing it to lower its forecast to 80 billion yen from an earlier projection of 100 billion yen.

Ogawa added that the company thinks conditions will improve in the second half as inventory costs decrease and peaking inflation spurs demand. To squeeze out growth from mature markets, Epson plans to shift portfolios to commercial and industrial buyers looking to cut waste.

The painfully slow pivot away from the image of a wasteful industry

To that end, the company’s PaperLab machines, for instance, break down used office paper to make blank sheets.

The machines are large, unwieldy, and more expensive than standard printers and new paper, but the company is working on reducing operating costs.

Regarding this effort, the CEO said the company places “particular emphasis on the environment” and would like to expand the use of products that can contribute to that, though it “may take some time.”

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