Canon KSA expansion strategy in line with Vision 2030

Yuichi Ishizuka with Shady Bakhour Canon KSA general manager during his visit to Canon headquarter in Riyadh. — Courtesy photo

By Samar Yahya

During his first visit to Saudi Arabia, Yuichi Ishizuka, Canon EMEA President & CEO, spoke exclusively to Saudi Gazette on the main goals of the visit.

He said: “I am very pleased to be visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time, it is a particularly important occasion after one year of our direct operations in the market and during a time in which the country is going through some remarkable transformations, evaluating our impact and success so far, as well as outlining our commitment as a business to the future advancement of the kingdom’s economic development in line with the economic objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.

“I look forward to discussing plans for Canon’s future enhancements in the country in terms of geographical market reach as well as growing our team further with Saudi nationals, key objectives for Canon Saudi Arabia as the next year unfolds.”

On the direct operations of Canon in Saudi Arabia after developing business in the region for the past 50 years through partners and distributors, Ishizuka said that establishing Canon Saudi Arabia has been an important part of Canon’s regional strategy to be closer to the customers through a direct presence in their respective markets and ensuring the understanding of their needs.

“We have bolstered this with best-in-class after sales support in the Kingdom. Our aim is to contribute to the Kingdom’s economy and industry diversification strategy as outlined by Vision 2030. Through our products and business solutions, Canon Saudi Arabia aims to help customers address these opportunities and establish thriving businesses. As a result of our direct presence, we have supported more businesses in the kingdom achieve their business goals, reflecting a growth of 62% for Canon business since we established our direct presence in comparison to previous indirect business.”

On Canon’s strategy and growth opportunities, Ishizuka said: “Canon’s strategy has always been to become closer to our customers by offering imaging products and solutions for personal and professional use combined with superior after sales support. We aim is to engage and enable youth and professionals to tell their stories through our imaging innovations (visual storytelling) and we want to inspire our customers to push the limits and realize new business opportunities through improving and streamlining their internal processes.

“Our direct operations will allow us to further expand our offering across the Saudi market where there is a growing need for digital and other technology-based imaging services in support of the country’s economic advancement and diversification.”

On how Canon’s future plans and investments support the objectives of Kingdom’s Vision 2030, Ishizuka said that Saudi Arabia has one of the top twenty economies in the world (G20) and has the largest economy in the Arab world.

“By establishing a long-term presence in KSA, we want to add value to Saudi economy by contributing to the development of a sophisticated digital infrastructure mandated by Vision 2030; which will ultimately attract investors and enhance the competitiveness of the Saudi economy. Historically through our direct operations, we have aided governments and organizations differentiate their business by providing simple and effective solutions and outcomes.

“Also, investing in its employees, is one of Canon’s objectives; by enhancing the skills and professionalism of Saudi nationals through extensive learning and development programs, embracing and enhancing the talent of Saudi youth, and empowering women to further support the country’s Saudization and women empowerment program.

Canon is investing more than $50 million across the three showrooms and offices in Jeddah, Al-Khobar, and Riyadh, in addition to investing in marketing and sales related activities, skills development through trainings, as well as systems and IT infrastructure investments — all of which are best in class.

On Saudization, Ishizuka confirmed that it is an integral part of Canon Saudi Arabia, to set up with the DNA of grooming and nurturing local Saudi and youth talent. Canon Saudi Arabia is ranked in the platinum level for Saudization and has 75 employees at the moment out of which 10% are women employees. Based on an open working environment, offering career opportunities, compensation, a great culture and values Canon Saudi Arabia is targeting to hire 300 employees by 2023.

Canon reinforces commitment to the Saudi community — aligned with Canon’s global philosophy of ‘kyosei’ which influences all that is done in terms of giving back for the common good, nevertheless, engaging with customers and employees on the ground.

“We encourage local internships, all our women interns were converted into long term employees in service, finance, sales & marketing and HR departments. We are focusing on developing the skills of women through photography workshops, and we recently signed an MoU with King Abdul Aziz University to run photography workshops for women throughout the year,” Ishizuka said

Canon’s engagement with Saudi community is also mirrored in Canon ambassadors program initiative that supports current and future generations of photographers and filmmakers such as Tasneem Alsultan, a young Saudi talent who offers unique perspectives into the everyday lives of her subjects through her lens.

Canon also offers photography workshops through Canon academy designed to support youth and customers to get the best out of their cameras. Canon has one example this year being our successful partnership with Saudi start-up, Packageha, (the owner is a woman entrepreneur) which supports small businesses in their packaging needs reflects our relationships with Saudi society through environmental initiatives and community welfare.

On challenges of industry in cameras and technological innovations and how Canon faces these challenges, Ishizuka said that Canon is investing in new imaging technologies and applications in rapidly growing fields such as medical, security and industrial equipment. Currently, Canon’s new businesses account for about 25 percent of sales, with aim to reach about 30 percent of total sales by 2020. Also, pushing the application of Canon’s optical systems into new areas such as autonomous vehicles and factory automation.

On the customers’ satisfaction and after-sales service, Ishizuka ensured that Canon’s aim is to ensure a superior after-sales service that is efficient and minimizes downtime. According to Canon’s customer feedback garnered from more than 100 respondents in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 96% customer satisfaction was achieved in the first half of 2019. “Our customers truly come first,” Ishizuka said.

Canon’s new products are ranging from the New EOS R system, a full frame mirrorless system, which redefines the boundaries of photography and filmmaking and the recent launch of new EOS RP. The Zoemini range, is a new product designed for GenZ. The lightweight, pocket-sized camera printer-take photos and print fun and unique souvenirs on-the-move.

Canon has recently established partnership with First Gulf Company to expand in Saudi Arabia’s film and broadcast sector and introduce new products in professional imaging segment. Also, Canon Cinema Series and 4K cameras will fulfill the growing requirement for high-quality content delivery within the Kingdom. ImagePRESS C165, is the latest extension of Canon’s multifunctional portfolio. This printer easily gives office functionality and professional quality to broaden print capabilities and drive customer engagement whether in an SME, creative agency, copy shop or in an in-house print environment.

Ishizuka graduated in 1981 from Keio University in Tokyo, Japan with a degree in economics and began his career at Canon Inc. in Japan in 1981, he worked in diverse positions in Canon in USA, Canada and Canon Inc. Ishizuka is Canon EMEA president and CEO.