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Strategy Session: Pentax Ricoh Levels the Playing Field

May 2012 By Jerry Grossman
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On April 1, 2012, the merger between two venerable brands, Pentax and Ricoh, became solidified with the formation of Pentax Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation, and Pentax assumed sales and marketing responsibility of Ricoh’s entire line of consumer cameras, including the Ricoh GRD4 and GXR. Along with this merger, the company instituted a unilateral pricing strategy that has the industry buzzing.

I spoke with Pentax Ricoh Imaging Americas’ president, Ned Bunnell, and asked him to sort it all out for us.

JG: Ned, how did the merger come about?

NB: There has been a fairly strong historical relationship between Ricoh and Pentax. If you look back to the ’70s when Ricoh was building SLRs, they were actually using our K mount, so there has always been a close relationship around our mount technology. Ricoh was interested in purchasing our brand heritage, as well as our technology. They have some pretty serious long-term plans to build the Pentax Ricoh camera business.

So it was a very logical fit; they have strong R&D, but cameras were never a major part of their portfolio. But now Ricoh is firmly committed to the camera business.

In Japan, a new company was formed called Pentax Ricoh Imaging, and we’ve been integrating Ricoh’s camera/business unit into Pentax Imaging, combining resources in Japan under one roof. Then they formed Pentax Ricoh Americas. We will be offering Ricoh products as well as Pentax products under one roof. We’ve brought together all of the R&D and engineering staff and merged them, and we now have one team focused on all camera development from here on out.

And the plan is to keep both brand names?

Yes, both will continue to be promoted. And we will be able to sell any Pentax or Ricoh cameras to retailers.

What’s the good news for the dealers?

Ricoh has stated they want to make Ricoh and Pentax major players and will be contributing more resources to put together programs to offer our dealers. From a dealer perspective, you now have a single source to buy both Pentax and Ricoh—more products, better support and the ability to offer a broader product line than they had before.

Are you seeing growth coming from both brands?

Yes. We’ve seen a large response from photo specialty retailers who want to carry Ricoh products. They are advanced consumer products that target a pretty serious photographer, so they’re not mass-merchant cameras. A lot of photo retailers know about the quality and see the opportunity to bring on a very select SKU. Clearly Ricoh is interested in our SLR technology and heritage, so there’s no question we will continue to focus on SLRs.

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