Kodak Australia has moved to re-assure local customers following the announcement by parent Eastman Kodak that it intends to put its remaining photographic businesses up for sale.
Local management had little early warning of this latest announcement, with some customers consequently reading of the dramatic decision in the trade media. (See last week’s report.) However, Kodak Australia managing director Adrian Fleming (pictured right) said his team has been endeavouring to contact all customers since the news was published.
‘The businesses we have up for sale are profitable businesses,’ he told Photo Counter. ‘They will be bought as an ongoing concern. There would be no point in buying them to shut them down.’
The businesses, once sold, would be in the hands of more ‘cashed up’ companies than Kodak, which is likely to be a positive for existing customers. (They will also be owned by companies which wanted them and their customers more than Eastman Kodak seems to!)
‘The next few months will be telling as suitors emerge,’ he said.
He said that the businesses could be sold to one purchaser or they could be split several ways.
It could be up to four individual companies, he said, noting that something like the Event Imaging business was very different from the manufacture of paper and chemistry.
For Mr Fleming, its deja vu all over again, as he was with graphics specialist Creo when Kodak acquired that business in 2005. While there was the same level of ‘fear and uncertainty’ at that time, the transition was successful, and there was no disruption to customers.
He said that from now until the new owner(s) of the photographic businesses were in place ‘there would be no change in supply arrangements stemming from this latest intiative from Eastman Kodak’ and Kodak Australia had no plans to increase prices.
News from the coalface also indicates business as usual: ‘As far as we at Independent Photo are concerned, it’s business as usual. We are ordering and receiving fresh stock on a regular basis that comes in very efficiently from the Kodak Xiamen distribution centre,’ said Stuart Holmes, managing director of Kodak’s photographic distributor into both Australia and New Zealand, Independent Photo (IPS):
Both Kodak Australia and Leading Edge Digital, which supports Kodak Express retailers with marketing, central billing and other benefits, have issued somewhat similar statements to Kodak-supporting retailers in Australia and New Zealand.
The statement appears to be standard ‘corporate boilerplate’, with no real local input or details – perhaps reflecting the fact that Kodak Australia is as much in the dark on the Eastman Kodak initiative as its customers!
The Leading Edge version of the statement follows:
Kodak announced last week that it is initiating the sale process of its ‘Personalised Imaging’ businesses, as well as Document Imaging business. The Personalised Imaging businesses include Retail Systems & Solutions, Paper & Output Systems, Consumer and Professional Still Film, and Event Imaging Solutions.
Both the Personalised Imaging and Document Imaging businesses want to ensure that all our retail customers (including Kodak Express retailers) understand: · These businesses are being sold, not discontinued. Customers can continue to count on us for all current products, services, software updates and support throughout the sale process and transition to new ownership. These are valuable businesses and have strong fundamentals, market leading positions based on superior products and services, and strong customer relationships. · The new owner will have the option to use the Kodak brand.
Your business with us will remain a top priority throughout this process. We will continue to provide the same level of engagement you have come to expect from Kodak, and our delivery of products and services will continue without interruption. Customers can continue to count on us for products, services, software updates and support throughout the sale process and transition to new ownership. We are committed to maintaining your trust and confidence and will keep you updated throughout this process. We remain focused on emerging as new and stronger businesses, and we are confident in our future.
Kodak has successfully sold businesses in the past with a seamless transition for customers. The Personalised Imaging and Document Imaging businesses are stable, profitable, on-going entities with valuable growth potential which buyers will recognise. Management of both businesses is committed to minimising the impact to our customers through this process.
If you have any questions regarding this announcement please contact John Clifford at Kodak: John [email protected], who will respond to you directly.