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Jbiggs Mutoh 

Large Format Review met with Jeff Biggs, Managing Director of Colourgen, after the announcement last month that the company has obtained UK distribution rights for Mutoh’s entire range of wide format digital printers.   We asked Jeff how this agreement came about and discussed Colourgen’s plans for Mutoh in the UK and Ireland going forward...

With the recent news that Mutoh is moving its manufacturing and R&D operations from Belgium to Japan in the near future, there has been speculation about what this means for Mutoh in the European market.  Mutoh customers in the UK and Ireland can rest assured that their needs will continue to be met following the announcement last month that Colourgen has been appointed as a distributor for the entire range of Mutoh wide format digital printers in the region.

According to Jeff Biggs, Colourgen has been talking with Mutoh on and off for the last 10 years about becoming a partner, but –until fairly recently – the timing had not been right for either or both parties. 

At the back end of 2009, Colourgen started to see an application-driven demand for textile printers from its customers and at that point decided to take on Mutoh’s textile printer range.

At the same time, Dublin-based Rennicks – a specialist traffic signage reseller – was pushing Mutoh to release its Zephyr TS UV flatbed printer (which was being developed for the production of traffic signage) as they saw increasing market demand for better technology for traffic sign production.  

The first UK and Ireland installation took place at Rennicks’ premises and Colourgen was brought on board to support the process.  Using its internal colour management resource, Colourgen developed a colour management solution specifically for the Zephyr TS.  This resulted in significant time savings in the new digital process over the manual method – thereby giving Rennicks a viable commercial solution to take to market.

The first commercial installation of the Zephyr TS took place at traffic sign production specialists, PF Cusack in Wolverhampton*.

Mutoh was impressed by the way that Colourgen had been able to support the installation and tweak the Zephyr solution so that it created a viable business model for Rennicks.  The success of this project led directly to Colourgen taking on a broader range of the Mutoh wide format digital printers.

According to Jeff Biggs, “Mutoh needed an organisation that would provide a dedicated focus on the product, the brand, the sales, the marketing and – crucially – the after sales support for Mutoh customers.” 

Colourgen is now distributing the ValueJet and Blizzard ranges and the Kona cutters, alongside the Viper textile range and Zephyr UV printers.
On the handover process, Jeff comments, “The transition across to Colourgen from the previous distributors was amicable and was agreed at Sign & Digital UK 2011.  There has been a clear switchover and all parties have ensured that the customer remains the focus at all times.”

One of the first steps Colourgen will be taking is to introduce a new Mutoh-certified Partner Programme.  The details are still being finalised, but – targeting existing and potential resellers – the company intends to launch and implement the programme this autumn.

This will be in place before the launch of two new Mutoh printers scheduled for Q4, 2011.  There will also be further printers released during 2012.  These will complement the existing range of Mutoh printers that Colourgen is now distributing and supporting.

According to Jeff Biggs, “Mutoh’s range of printers sits really nicely within the existing Colourgen portfolio.  There is minimal overlap with the Seiko II printers and we are now able to offer our resellers a full range of wide format printing solutions to meet all applications, budgets and requirements.”

He adds, “We believe that the Mutoh printers are more productive than Roland’s offerings and generally have a lower cost of ownership than most of the Mimaki printers.  Key to our proposition is the fact that Colourgen – in conjunction with Mutoh – will be able to offer better service and support than that offered by rival manufacturers.  Ultimately, we aim to bring a much better ownership experience to Mutoh’s existing and future customers.”

* a case study on this installation can be found on LFR via the following link: http://www.largeformatreview.com/large-format/2246-colourgen-reseller-rennicks-uk-installs-mutoh-zephyr-at-pf-cusacks