Lexmark launches new partner programme

February 9, 2016

The Connect Partner Programme aims to “support the current and future needs of the partner community and its customers”.LexmarkLogo_RGB_300

The new programme has been launched by Lexmark in Europe to “meet the changing needs of its channel partners and address the shifting dynamics of the market”, with the OEM noting that it has been designed to “support partners selling to customers who are increasingly looking to adopt a holistic, end-to-end approach to their data and document management”, including beyond printing. Enrollment is already available for those partners qualifying, Lexmark added.

Lexmark also said that the programme features a “unified programme framework” that connects partners to its “expertise” in hardware, supplies, service, MPS and software, and is designed to “enrich partner offerings” in this regard. Channel partners joining can “access in-depth knowledge of the market and technology leadership”, which will allow them to provide customers with “informed recommendations” and “differentiate themselves and capitalise on the opportunities” in the market.

With features including “enhanced training and marketing support”, the programme is a consolidation of the OEM’s current channel programmes, and it notes that partners “will get access to a wide range of benefits” as well as drive “profitability for their business”. Access will also be available to an online resource called PartnerNet, alongside a “partner-specific training portal” and “completely revised set of sales and marketing tools”.

Danny Molhoek, General Manager for North West Europe at Lexmark, commented: “By offering our channel partners a specifically tailored combination of technology knowledge, industry expertise and customer engagement tools, the new Lexmark Connect Partner Programme is truly ‘opening up the possibilities’ by empowering our partners to transform their businesses.

“We have designed this new programme from the ground up to provide a framework that supports our partners as they adapt to a fast-evolving market. Joining the programme will also allow our partners to better connect with the current and future document output and management needs of businesses in an era of digital transformation.”

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Lexmark launches new colour laser printers and MFPs

January 25, 2016

Lexmark's CX860 MFP

Lexmark’s CX860 MFP

The OEM’s new ranges are said to feature some of “the highest toner capacities in their class”.

The range consists of seven new series, including A4 colours lasers and smart MFPs, in what Lexmark is calling a “breakthrough innovation in [the] fastest growing market segment”. Among the new printers launched are the CS720, CS725 and CS820 series of printers, and the CX725, CX820, CX825, and CX860 series of MFPs, which are all “driven by a powerful quad core processor” and feature “among the fastest print and copy speeds available in their respective A4 classes”.

The OEM added that many of the colour lasers launched “deliver on of the highest toner capacities in their class and industry-leading long life imaging components”, which result in “fewer user interventions and Lexmark’s best-ever colour total cost of ownership”. Lexmark additionally quoted IDC’s Amy Machado, Research Manager for its Worldwide Hardcopy Peripherals Format Forecast, who stated that “A4 colour MFPs continue to represent a very strong segment for worldwide MFP activity, with a high 10.5 percent growth rate expected throughout the forecast period”.

The CX860 is said to be Lexmark’s “champion offering”, with “one of the highest toner capacit[ies], the largest input/output capacity and the most flexible media support of any A4 colour laser MFP”. The OEM added that the machine is “so advanced it rivals the capabilities of A3 products, enabling businesses to bring colour production in-house”. Each of the devices features Lexmark’s Kofax TotalAgility business process, alongside a “tablet-like interface” and the Scan Center application.

Marty Canning, Lexmark’s Executive Vice President and President of Imaging Solutions and Services, commented: “This Lexmark-created, game-changing technology brings together the best of A3 and A4 technology in a new way, designed to optimise for managed print services and business process solutions. With a lower total cost of ownership than ever before, Lexmark’s next generation large workgroup colour lasers are the ultimate in office productivity.”

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Kleen Strike responds to Lexmark

January 25, 2016

Laura Heywood

Laura Heywood

The UK remanufacturer and UKCRA member noted that it was “heartening and encouraging” to see Lexmark’s support for reuse, recycling and remanufacturing of printer cartridges.

Lexmark last week demanded improved cartridge reuse and remanufacturing across the European Union (EU), stating that it wants the EU to boost take-back, increase remanufactured component use in cartridges, and promote remanufacturing through user labelling. In response, Kleen Strike’s Managing Director Laura Heywood, also Correspondence Secretary of UKCRA, commented on the OEM’s statements.

Heywood remarked that it is “heartening and encouraging that a number of OEMs are embracing the concept of reuse rather than recycling”, and said Kleen Strike “applauds” Lexmark’s pledge to reuse 50 percent of returned cartridges. Adding that “any publicity for promoting cartridge reuse/remanufacturing over recycling is a good thing”, she points out that the move “will certainly bring awareness that once a cartridge is used it is still a valuable resource and is important in contributing towards a more circular economy”.

She also stated: “UKCRA members have had schemes in place for many years for collecting their own remanufactured cartridges as well as any others that can be successfully reused. Many internal components are well-constructed and are able to go through several reuse cycles, so it is important to make provision for their return through free collections.”

UKCRA had previously submitted a 55-page ‘Position Paper’ to the EU Public Consultation on the Circular Economy, Heywood points out, and “welcome[s] the opportunity to encourage the EU to support the remanufacturing industry by addressing the huge environmental and economic potential that cartridge reuse/remanufacturing offers – as well as identify areas where further EU regulation or incentives are needed to enable cartridge remanufacturing to play its full role and potential in the circular economy”.

She concluded that “it is by taking a positive approach to remanufacturing and the feed stocks on which it is based that a more appropriate and fitting policy framework can be created – and Lexmark’s demand for improved cartridge reuse and remanufacturing is a step in the right direction”.

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Lexmark demands improved cartridge reuse and remanufacturing

January 19, 2016

LexmarkLogo_RGB_300The OEM demanded the EU boost take-back, increase remanufactured component use in cartridges, and promote remanufacturing through user labelling.

Lexmark “applauds” the EU’s recent circular economy plans, and asked the EU to “curb printer cartridge waste in Europe” while also calling on the European cartridge industry to “help promote cartridge reuse and recycling”, adding that it is “pushing for the EU to require” a wide range of new initiatives.

These include: for all suppliers to “provide a free take-back facility for cartridges they place on the European market”; for all cartridges sold in Europe by 2020 to “include 50 percent remanufactured components or be recyclable”; for compulsory environmental criteria to “be introduced into public procurement” relating to cartridges; that remanufacturing and recycling of products “be promoted by user labelling intended to guarantee quality operating performance”; and that landfilling or incineration of cartridges “without energy recovery” be made illegal, while also providing incentives “for suppliers to collect and reuse their products”.

This “call to action” for the industry is because Lexmark estimates 30,000 to 50,000 tonnes of cartridges end up in landfill each year “as a result of the industry’s poor rate of collection from customers”, and adds it has “already made strides” in reducing waste through its Lexmark Cartridge Collection Programme and the Corporate Cartridges line. Remanufacturing is now a “core part of Lexmark’s business”, and by 2018 it aims to reuse 50 percent “by weight” of returned cartridges, an increase from its current figure of 34 percent.

It pointed out that the LCCP collection rate is 35 percent, “nearly twice the industry average”, with none “sent to landfill or for incineration”, while recycling a used Lexmark toner cartridge “reduces its total carbon footprint by more than 50 percent”. Finally, the Corporate Cartridges line can not only include up to 90 percent of reused components, but 92 percent of “all Lexmark cartridges” contain “post-consumer recycled content”.eu_flag_pont_mont_blanc

The OEM is also a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s ‘Circular Economy 100’ programme, and contributed to the European Commission’s ‘Preparatory Consultation on the Circular Economy’ by calling for “legislative and regulatory changes”, while asking to “allow companies that apply good environmental practice to compete on fair terms with those that do not”.

Udo Schlauch, General Manager for Lexmark’s EMEA Annuities and Channel, commented: “The concept of the circular economy is something that Lexmark has supported since it was founded in 1991 and the remanufacturing of printer cartridges has been at the core of the company’s business strategy since day one.

“With the European Commission having now published its new proposals for promoting the circular economy the timing is perfect to call on the printer cartridge industry in Europe to support measures to curb waste by encouraging reuse and recycling. We now call on our industry to promote sound practice and good policy to alleviate the issues around printer cartridge waste and the poor rates of collection and reuse.”

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Protests supporting fired Lexmark staff take place

January 14, 2016

Protesters in support of the workers

Protesters in support of the workers

Protests in support of the fired Ciudad Juarez cartridge plant employees took place in El Paso, Mexico City, Juarez and Lexington.

El Paso Herald Post reported on the “multi-city protests” in support of the staff, who were fired a month ago “for asking for raises”, and who began protesting against Lexmark for firing them. The 700 employees, who manufacture cartridges, had gone on strike over pay and were fired, having also demanded “the right to unionise”. The protests took place on 13 January across Mexico in both Juarez and Mexico City, while El Paso and Lexington, Kentucky in the US also saw support protests take place.

The dispute began in November over a raise of six pesos (34 US cents/31 euro cents) a day. Currently, Lexmark pays the staff in Mexico 70.10 pesos ($4.04/€3.69) a day, with workers asking for around 114 to 120 pesos ($6.58/€6 to $6.92/€6.32). The 700 workers “held a work stoppage” and camped outside the plant “until their demands are met” by the OEM, and interestingly, protests in support have taken place near its headquarters in Lexington.

Lexington-based supporters were said to have been “appalled” to learn of the workers’ plight, with a Facebook page stating that the protestors there were “a few dozen Kentuckians (and growing) who are working in direct solidarity with the workers and organizers in Juarez and El Paso in a coordinated international campaign to achieve justice and collective liberation for all those subjected to Lexmark’s abuses”.

In El Paso meanwhile, a group protested in front of the Mexican Consulate, while Mexico City protestors walked to the Senate Office for Chihauhua, and the Juarez protest “continues just in front of the Lexmark plant”. The AFL/CIO, a group in the US that “oversees the 50-plus unions across America”, and represents 11 million workers, also stated that it “stands in solidarity” with the workers, as well as others at companies in Mexico such as Foxconn, Commscope and Eaton who the group accuses of “the same abuses against their workers”.

The fired Lexmark staff continued their protest even through the Christmas holiday, as well as “through the post-Christmas storm that dumped seven inches of snow on the region”. The news site highlights that the employees “are not only hopeful, but re-energised by the increasing pressure from other groups supporting their efforts”.

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Lexmark considers split to boost sale chances

January 13, 2016

The OEM is reportedly looking at “divesting its hardware and software assets” in order to “revive interest in its sale process”.Lexmark new logo

Reuters exclusively reported that sources have told its reporters Lexmark is considering “breaking up”, and “considering the possibility of divesting its hardware and software assets separately to revive interest” in being bought out. The sources are “people familiar with the matter”, and the decision is said to have been made after the OEM “held discussions with several potential buyers about the sale of the entire company”.

Those discussions have “yet to result in offers that would be in line with its valuation expectations”, though private equity firms “are now having conversations with Lexmark about acquiring either its hardware or software assets”, while Lexmark itself “has yet to make any decision on a way forward”. In October last year, Lexmark confirmed it was looking at “strategic alternatives” including being sold, with Goldman Sach advising the OEM.

Reuter’s sources “asked not to be identified because the details of the sale process are confidential”, while Lexmark itself said it “does not intend to comment on the exploration process or disclose further developments until the board approves a specific transaction or otherwise concludes the exploration of strategic alternatives”.

Earlier this month, it was rumoured – thanks to a letter sent to Photizo Group – that fellow OEM Konica Minolta was looking to buy Lexmark, and while the OEM has been “aggressively” acquiring software companies in the last few years, Reuters points out that software “represents a small portion of revenue compared to the hardware business”, including printers and cartridges. In December however, weak demand for both printers and cartridges were said to have affected the OEM.

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Konica Minolta to buy Lexmark?

January 4, 2016

A letter sent to market analysts Photizo Group seems to hint that Konica Minolta will buy out Lexmark.Lexmark new logo

The letter, which Photizo Group reported on here, was sent on 23 December “unsolicited” by the analysts, and was sent by the “infamous” Lexmark Employees for Ethical Conduct (LEEC), claiming that “Paul Rooke, Jeri Isbell, the executive officers of Lexmark, and the Board of Directors are preparing to sell Lexmark to Konica Minolta…”. Details included are “very specific” in relation to a “pending acquisition”, and consist of dates and information on the supposed buyout.

Photizo added that this “seemingly confirm[s] our own due diligence and supposition”, with the “incendiary letter” asking Kentucky State Governor Bevin and Lexington Mayor Gray to “act immediately [and] save our careers”. The details in the letter include that Lexmark will announce its “largest and most significant” product launch “in the company’s history” on 28 January, which will “position the firm to terminate many of its R&D staff”.

Konica-MinoltaAdditionally, Konica Minolta is said to be “most interested in acquiring [the] hardware product line to complete gaps in its own product offering”, has “no desire to take ownership of Enterprise Software”, and “is likely to streamline its operations (and headcount) in the coming three to five years”. In response, Lexmark only commented that its official position is not to “comment on rumour or speculation”, and that it is “exploring strategic alternatives”.

Photizo’s perspective was that the “inflammatory” letter “would seem to support” its own analysis in relation to Konica Minolta, and that it “further connects” with other information. It also pointed out that it is “surprising” Konica Minolta “would not be interested” in Lexmark’s Enterprise Software unit, as it is “equally interesting” compared to the hardware and MPS businesses. It also wonders whether the OEM would “be so short-sighted” in doing so, concluding by asking “is this the end of another dynasty” or the “beginning of a beautiful marriage”.

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Lexmark gives business overview

December 21, 2015

The OEM expanded on its most recent quarterly results and recent developments.Lexmark new logo

In a “quarterly business roundup”, the OEM reflected on its recent quarterly results, which saw revenue for 3Q2015 to $851 million (€769 million), down from $918 million (€829 million) for the respective quarter of 2014, while the gross profit margin fell to 37.6 percent from 38.9 percent. The OEM’s Inkjet Exit division saw its revenue decline 48 percent, while its MPS division grew its revenue by one percent.

Rumours emerged earlier this year that among “strategic alternatives” Lexmark is considering include looking to sell the company to another technology company or a private equity firm. In turn, according to a market analyst, “weak demand” for both printers and cartridges “will continue to hinder” the OEM’s printer business.

The OEM also noted that it recently opened a base in Saudi Arabia, which further “expand[s] its presence to support demand in the Middle East”, while it also reported that it had been named ‘Best A4 Manufacturer of the Year’ by The Cannata Report, after a survey of dealers. This marked the fourth time that it received the award, after wins in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

Ron Binkauskas, Lexmark’s Vice President and General Manager for Imaging Solutions and Services, North America, added: “Lexmark is honoured to be named ‘Best A4 Manufacturer of the Year’. This award validates the strength of our A4 product line and is especially meaningful because it is determined by an independent office equipment dealer survey.”

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Lexmark Mexico staff protest against firing

December 14, 2015

The employees, who manufacture cartridges, had gone on strike last week over pay and were fired, with protests growing against the decision.

Lexmark's plant in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Lexmark’s plant in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

El Paso Herald Post and Frontera Desk reported on the developments in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where Lexmark has a toner cartridge manufacturing plant. Around 700 workers “walked off the job” on 8 December to demand “the right to unionise” as well as increased pay, with the dispute beginning in November over a raise of six pesos (34 US cents/31 euro cents) a day. After walking off site, the workers were all fired by the OEM in response, with protests now taking place.

Currently, Lexmark pays the staff in Mexico 70.10 pesos ($4.04/€3.69) a day, with workers asking for around 114 to 120 pesos ($6.58/€6 to $6.92/€6.32), which “is the norm for employees with five or more years with the company”, and when the pay rise was denied, employees “decided to file for formation of a union”, which they say “triggered the firings”.

The 700 workers who “held a work stoppage” have now camped outside the plant “until their demands are met” by the OEM, with mobile phone videos of protests being held inside the plant also being shared on social media by staff. On top of being fired, the staff have claimed that their annual bonus, which is “mandated by the Mexican government […] is also being withheld” by Lexmark.

The OEM responded that it takes “very seriously the values of mutual respect and employee satisfaction […] we embrace individual differences and listen to all voices. We are committed to engage in open and honest conversations with our employees to ensure Lexmark remains a rewarding place to work”.

Other protests and support groups have mobilised on the side of the staff, with US social media groups being set up to “not only bring light to the situation, but help the fired employees get through the holiday season”. One Facebook group, Obrer@Power, is trying to inform “the world of the situation” and help families financially, with a food drive it organised providing enough for “120 of the fired workers”.

Mexican labourers are known as’ maquila’ workers, with many other such workers in the country taking similar action against employers over sexual harassment, poor working conditions, the right to form unions and protection against dangerous chemicals, alongside higher pay. Other global companies including Foxconn have seen protests, while The Recycler reported on the closure of the US remanufacturer’s factory in Nogales, Mexico two years ago, after the company’s aims to merge with another business fell apart.

Staff at the factory arrived for work in February 2013 only to find locks had been changed, and protested against the closure, camping outside to prevent Legacy from selling anything before staff were awarded severance pay. In March 2015, the staff occupied offices and plants in continued protest, and began selling off machinery to raise funds.

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“Weak demand” for printers and cartridges affects Lexmark

December 10, 2015

According to a market analyst, the lower demand “will continue to hinder” the OEM’s printer business.lexmarkweb

Trefis analysed Lexmark’s performance and business changes, highlighting that despite its efforts “to build its end-to-end solutions company”, the “majority of its value” comes from both laser hardware and supplies. With both Lexmark and HP seeing poor sales performance, the analyst notes that “increased channel inventory and intense price competition” from Epson and Canon have affected printer sales.

In turn, “declining revenues across the industry” are said to “suggest it has been in a secular decline”, with the trends set to continue into the next financial year. This is intensified further by pricing competition among OEMs, as Japanese OEMs – “on the back of a weakening yen” – have been able to further reduce prices, pressuring “market share for all participants”.

Epson and Canon’s market share grew by 14.8 percent and 19.5 percent respectively in 2Q2015, and while HP’s grew to 40.8 percent, most growth came from the US and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) in inkjet, which itself makes up 58 percent of the total hardware market. Trefis added that despite declines in laser printer MFPs and single-functions, Lexmark “reported strong growth” in monochrome 45 to 69ppm, but revenues are expected to “continue to decrease” over time.

The “shrinking laser business” will mean that average sales prices for hardware will also decline “even as the shipment [figures] remain constant”, with Trefis expecting laser hardware shipments to stabilise at 1.8 million units for Lexmark – 4.5 percent of the market – and Lexmark set to report a falling sales figure.

The influence of remanufacturer and refillers is also having an effect, with Trefis noting that “consumers use these to reduce what they spend on printing”, and with this “commoditisation [set] to dent cartridge and supplies revenue” for all OEMs, including Lexmark. The analyst contends that “supplies revenues for OEMs have been declining for the past few quarters”, and Lexmark’s have “declined over the past few years, accentuated by its exiting the inkjet business”.

Despite Lexmark gaining more MPS business, cartridges sold have declined also thanks to “longer lasting cartridges that print more pages”, with sales falling from 7.2 per printer in 2011 to 5.22 per printer in 2014, and the expectation that this will fall further to 4.82 per printer in 2016.

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