Battling it out

By , agencyfaqs! | In | September 19, 2000
Gestetner India is on the turnaround path. On the anvil is a new marketing strategy backed up with some aggressive communication

Sabil Francis
agencyfaqs! NEWS BUREAU
NEW DELHI, September 18

Gestetner is ready for battle. The year 1999 was a bruising year for the company. That year, office automation company Gestetner India Ltd (GIL), showed a profit after tax of a mere Rs 59 lakh. In 1998, the company had shown a profit after tax of Rs 3.29 crore.
This year things will be different, says the new man at the helm, K. Swetharanyan, a Modi Xerox veteran who took over the company in April this year. In it's latest move to consolidate its position as market leader in the digital copier segment, where it has a 57 per cent market share, the Indian subsidiary of Gestetner Holdings Plc, UK, (which holds 51 per cent in GIL) has launched a series of state of art digital printer copiers,. One of them, the Mojito can print up to 140 pages per minute in tandem. The new range, called the Aficio range, has been introduced in India, right after its launch in the highly developed European market. The company also has a 55 per cent share of the copy printer market.
The launch comes as the latest in a series of moves by the company to shape up in the highly competitive digital copier market, which, industry estimates put at, at least, Rs 40 to Rs 50 crore and growing at 50 per cent.
agencyfaqs! sources at the company say that the advertising campaign for the products will be launched early next year, and will showcase both the product lineage and highly sophisticated range of copiers that the company is offering. Though many advertising firms are trying for the contract, it is most likely to go again to Focus, in spite of the rocky relation that the advertising agency has had with its client of late, reveal the sources. The campaign will sell both the concept and the brand. An image change is also in the offing. " We are a digital company. Not a duplicator company. That is the message that we want to put across," says K. Swetharanyan.
The company is also trying to move out of its dependence on government contracts, which account for about 75 per cent of the revenue currently. "We intend to focus on such emerging sectors as information technology, financial services, and corporate clients. The focus will be on those companies that have centralised copying," says Swetharanyan.
The launch of the new range is the latest in a series of moves by the company that included restructuring its workforce, replacing MD Paul Wilkinson with Swetharanyan, and a strengthening of its marketing strategy to target a wide range of consumers. The new marketing strategy will focus on high-end, high-margin products. The company is also planning to strengthen its backend services as part of this effort. The company is investing a substantial amount into TQM programmes and revamping the sales force. The company is also seeking to export the older analogue versions to West Asian and African countries even as it also seeks to tap the rural market in India, with stress on schools. Says K.B. Menon, vice-president, marketing, "Our attempt is to change the mind set of the consumer from analog to digital. That's what the company's marketing will try to do."
With several players jostling for position, and competitors nipping at its heels, the company is now trying valiantly to get its act together. In the year 2000, GIL notched up a revenue of a little over a crore in a revenue of Rs 37 crores. Swetharanyan says with a tinge of pride, "It gives one a great sense of personal and professional pride to nurture a company, and to turn it around."
These are tough times for those who want to sell copying machines. The traditional copier market is stagnant at 5.7 per cent growth, and only the digital segment is showing a growth rate of 13 per cent worldwide. The digital to analog copier ratio, which now stands at 60 to 40, is expected to become 70 to 30 in the next couple of years. Everyone is trying to go digital, and that's where the challenge lies.
GIL is determined to notch up a 25 to 30 per cent rise over last year's turnover. With competitors such as Swetharanyan's former employers, Xerox, nipping away at Gestetner's heels, it will take a lot of nurturing for GIL to achieve it's targets.

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