Ricoh set to stop mass production of cameras – Update
January 21, 2022
Ricoh Japan has issued a press release outlining several new strategies and business structures, that will be implemented on 1 April 2022, including the statement that it will ‘stop mass producing cameras and will concentrate on “workshop-like” manufacturing process’. The release also promises the new structure will ‘enhance the two brand values of Pentax and [Ricoh] GR‘, with the sales emphasis likely to be put on online sales of products rather than in-store sales.
On 24 January 2022 we spoke to Ricoh Imaging Europe and asked if the proposed changes in Japan were likely to affect the UK and Europe. A spokesman told us, ‘Not that I know of. They [Ricoh Japan] haven’t informed us of anything. I guess it will continue as usual.’
We also had this update from Ricoh US, which you can read below, stating that this news applies to Ricoh Japan only.
Update from Ricoh US 21/01/22: “The announcement made by Ricoh Imaging Co., Ltd. on January 20, 2022 regarding a revamped approach to Ricoh’s digital camera manufacturing and distribution was specific to the local market in Japan only. “Ricoh/Pentax will not change its distribution structure in North America, and the company has significant plans and goals for the North America market this year that will utilize mass production of its products,” said Kazumichi Eguchi, President, Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation.”
The core takeaways from the release are that Ricoh Japan will stop mass-producing cameras, will implement a new digital camera sales system (in Japan), will announce a new business structure and will concentrate on Web sales. As yet, it’s unclear as to how far these new strategies may apply outside of Japan with regards to the production, supply and sales of Ricoh and Pentax branded products, but we will let you know as soon as we have any official statements with regards to the exact situation in the UK and Europe.
In October 2011 Ricoh officially concluded a $124.2 million deal to buy the Pentax camera division from Hoya. The deal included the Pentax camera manufacturing subsidiary in Vietnam. At the time Hoya explained that Ricoh was looking to build a consumer camera business and wanted Pentax’s interchangeable lens camera technology, lens technology and sales channels. Its plans for the business specifically include the interchangeable lens camera market.
Press release from Ricoh Japan (translated):
Ricoh Imaging will be reborn – Making full use of ‘digital’ methods to connect directly with customers and ‘workshop-like’ manufacturing to become a brand that is valuable in the future.
Ricoh Imaging Co., Ltd. (President: Noboru Akahane) will renew the manufacturing and sales system in Japan for the digital camera business on April 1, 2022. We will build a new business structure that enhances the two brand values of PENTAX and GR, connects directly with customers by making full use of “digital” methods, and further sharpens and deepens the attractiveness of both brands through “workshop-like” manufacturing…
Message from Noboru Akahane, President and CEO
Until now, we have been doing business while feeling the strong feelings of our customers for the PENTAX and GR brands. While I would like to respond to that desire as much as possible, I feel that the conventional method based on mass production and mass sales is becoming less accustomed to the recent changes in the market environment.
But the activity of people taking pictures, sharing them, and having fun is rather endless. We will take on new paths together with our customers while politely responding to such diversified needs of our customers.
Ricoh Imaging takes on “two challenges”.
- Get close to customers by making full use of “digital” methods
- Realise “workshop-like” manufacturing
Beyond the conventional wisdom, we believe in the strong feelings of our customers for both PENTAX and GR brands, and will develop as a manufacturer that walks together and creates together.
Concrete efforts for “two challenges”
- Strengthening relationships with customers by making full use of “digital” methods and “workshop-like” manufacturing
(delivering what you want to those who want it. Enhancing user communication)
We will strengthen the online/offline contact points between Ricoh Imaging and our customers more than ever, and build a co-creation community that connects with each customer and activates mutual communication.
In the future, we will expand opportunities for customers all over Japan to experience a wide range of PENTAX/GR cameras and products.
Pentax has gained the support of customers, mainly single-lens reflex cameras. We will expand the range of various customisations to further reflect the needs of our customers and provide workshop value. In addition, we will build a system that enables manufacturing together with customers from the product planning stage through communication through online fan meetings.
GR sticks to the concept of “the strongest snap shooter” and pursues the universal value of snaps. We will make a clear distinction from the spec competition, thoroughly pursue optimisation for snapshot shooting, and propose cameras that are particular about high image quality, operability, and portability. In order to connect directly with customers and create a snap culture, we will focus on revitalising the fan community through social media and interacting through offline events to strengthen two-way relationships.
2. Shift to “digital” sales methods and “workshop-like” production (strengthening Ricoh imaging stores, opening directly managed malls in major marketplaces)
We will shift from a sales method centred on the distribution network via retail stores to sales via the Internet to improve the efficiency of business operations. In addition to our own EC direct sales site, we will develop directly managed malls in major marketplaces to expand opportunities and places where Ricoh Imaging and customers can directly connect. In addition, by utilising digital sales methods, we can grasp the demand of the market in more detail and realise the optimum production that is different from the conventional mass production / mass sales model. At the same time, by directly contacting customers, we aim to reflect customer feedback in manufacturing more than ever and provide products that are more attractive to customers.
Strengthening the Ricoh Imaging Store (EC direct sales site).
As the brand value of PENTAX and GR deepens, we will enhance independent content and utilize it as a place for two-way communication with customers.
Opening directly managed malls in major marketplaces.
We will open directly managed malls for PENTAX and GR in major marketplaces on the Internet. By doing so, we will increase the points of contact with our customers and expand their purchasing opportunities and opportunities for communication.