Home Insider Expat Insider Interview with Head of Fuji Xerox Myanmar Hideaki Kato

Interview with Head of Fuji Xerox Myanmar Hideaki Kato

Name:Hideaki Kato

Nationality: Japanese

Position: General Manager of Fuji Xerox Asia Pacifc (Myanmar Branch)


MI: When was your frst visit to Myanmar and how has your impression changed since then?

I came to Myanmar two and half years ago. My frst impression is that it is beautiful country with so many green places. I arrived Yangon airport at 7 pm from Bangkok. Next morning, from the hotel window, I saw so much green and nature.

When I visit to the Shwe Dagon Pagoda for frst time, I saw a lot of people praying to Buddha. This was my frst experience to see so many people praying to Buddha. They are so innocent and noble with pure mind. They are wearing very nice traditional dress, long gyi. I was very impressed. I think Myanmar people life style is mostly based on Buddhism way of thinking. That is very nice.

After joining the company, my impression of Myanmar people is that they are very nice people. It is really good to work with them. Their work attitude for business is strong point of Myanmar. Myanmar is now rapidly growing compared with last two years ago. Now everything is quite different. All infrastructures have been improving.

MI: How did you end up as General Manager of Fuji Xerox Asia here? Can you tell us more about your responsibilities?

Fuji Xerox is operating in fourteen countries in Asia Pacifc region including Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippine, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Newzeland and Australia. Each country has a managing director or general manager. All of their responsibilities are exactly same. We must provide same value for our valued customers.

My responsibility here is as a country managing director is to enhance our brand equity. But in Myanmar, because of some government regulations, at the moment, any foreign investment cannot directly import and sell goods to customers. So that we do our business through our partner dealer, Concordia International Ltd that has more than ten years of business relationship with us. Before establishment of our direct offce in Yangon, we used to provide dealer support from another country same as other brands, but since April 2013, we have established our direct office in Myanmar and we provide daily based support to them from Person in Charge to Management level.

MI: In which ways working in Myanmar different from working in any other countries?

Regarding business, what we have to do almost the same as in other countries. Basically we Fuji Xerox are doing direct-business operation in other countries. We directly provide our products and services to our value customers. So we can obtain customer’s voice or requirement directly. But in Myanmar, some government regulation for investment is different from other countries. In Myanmar, 100 percentage foreign investment entities cannot directly import the goods and sell directly to customer. We, Fuji Xerox, are 100 percent foreign investment company. That is the big difference. But we have a good partner, Concordia International. Fuji Xerox had established direct offcial branch offce in 2013. Since then, we have been co-working with them on an almost daily basis. How to support  our value customer through Concordia is more important. Some foreign investment companies want to directly contact to us same as other countries. We can directly communicate with those customers especially for global company. Firstly, we made deal with them and eventually, our partner, Concordia made contracts with those value customers.

MI: What kind of services is Fuji Xerox currently offering?

Firstly, we are the manufacturer. We can provide small printers to very huge professional printers based upon variable customer requirements in Myanmar. Yesterday, we made deal with one of our customer more than $ 200,000. Many of the customers are guaranteed that they will be satisfed with our customer services. Our commitments are to provide reliable high quality maintenance services supported by direct customer engineer and global standard solutions through the reliable direct support to value customers regardless of product size for our customer. It just depends on customer requirements and we can deliver our products anytime. Our mission is not to stop customer job or business.

MI: How different are the customer’s expectations here in Myanmar compare to other countries?

Customer expectation is not so different among all countries. Currently small and medium enterprise market is quite huge in Myanmar market. That is one of the reason why people prefer single function low-end copiers. Last two and half year ago, there was not so many computers for employees. Local customers prefer to use low-end single function products such as single copier or printer. But Myanmar market is dramatically changing. If we compare Myanmar’s development speed with its of other countries, it is quite high and fast. Nowadays, many local customers prefer multi-function devices instead of low-end copier. Almost everyone can use computers now. Demand for printing is getting higher day by day.

MI: What is the target market segment for Fuji Xerox here?

Fuji Xerox is a Japan brand and our head quarter is located in Singapore. One of our main focus is Japan and other foreign investment companies and already have highest market share for foreign investment companies in Myanmar.

We are No 1 market share around Asia Pacific Countries including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and so on. During the sanction period, our support was not enough for Myanmar market. Other brands have huge market share. But now, Fuji Xerox is the only one branch which has a direct branch offce in Myanmar. Other brands are supported from foreign countries such as Bangkok, Singapore, etc. This is quite different. We are living here and staying together 365 days with Myanmar customers. So every day we can hear customers’ voices and requirements. That is our commitment to Myanmar and strong differentiator against competitors. We also hire Myanmar local people who devote to work for our company. With company direction, they visit to customer offces daily and can hear customer voice. Moreover this kind of daily management coach is only Fuji Xerox can do so far. Myanmar has been changing and developing day by day. Fuji Xerox has No 1 Market Share in Asia Pacifc Countries. My target is to obtain No 1 market share in Myanmar within the nextthree years.

MI: Recently, Fuji Xerox has opened new branch in Thanlyin?

What are your future expansion plans for Myanmar market? Thanlyin branch is one component of our expansion plans. Actually, Thanlyin offce is our Concordia branch. Of course, we target to Thilawa SEZ. At the moment, around 50 companies decided to open their factories in Thilawa japan zone. Half of those companies are Japan foreign investment companies and other companies are also from all over the world.

If we direct visit to Thilawa zone from Yangon, it will takes more than one hour. From Thanlyin service center, it only takes 15 minutes to Thilawa SEZ zone by motorbikes. We would like to deliver global high quality service to Thilawa customer. Customer requirement are quite high. Our Focus is to provide fast high quality service to customer from Thilawa Industrial Zone and Thanlyin Division.

MI: Who are your competitors and what are you competitive strategies? 

Basically, our competitors are basically same as other countries. Many of competitors brands are the same all over the world such as Cannon, Ricoh, etc. We recognize our strong point as only Fuji Xerox has direct brand offce in Myanmar so far. So other competitors are supported from foreign countries such as Bangkok, Singapore and so on. In my opinion, this kind of support cannot catch up with Myanmar development pace.

We can know customer requirements and support daily basis. I always mentioned to local employees that you are directly hired by Fuji Xerox. You are not employee of local 3rd party dealers. Whenever you communicate with customer, there is our brand image behind you. We have to provide the best and reliable services to our value customers all over the country. That is our brand value. We need to deliver brand value to our customer. We must have more close direct communication with customers and with our partner, Concordia.

MI: What are Fuji Xerox current corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects locally?

CSR activities is quite important for our Myanmar operations. Fuji Xerox is doing many CSR activities not only for education sector but also for other sector around the world. For example, Fuji Xerox always respect 3R; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. In order to achieve “Zero Emission” of our used products, we established Eco Manufacturing factories in Thailand, Japan, China and so on. Now we are trying to providing recycling process to Myanmar operation.

In Myanmar, to contribute to the development of society, education is one of the key. Children are treasure of this country. That is why, Fuji Xerox focuses on helping to educate children who represent the future of the nation. The self-learning type of Mathematics workbooks are donated for G1, G2 and G3 students. Not only delivery of workbook, we continuously visit schools to monitor utilization of workbook and collect teaches’ feedback for further improvement of workbook. We are co working with one of Japanese Famous company, Gakken Holdings for this project. We ask them to provide Japan contents. And also, Xenon is also participate for this project as print provider. We focus on Hlaing Tharyar, ShwePyiThar and Thanlyin because many of migrant workers coming from other regions live in these areas to work for garment factories.

MI: From a business standpoint, what do you feel are the biggest challenges facing you and your team in Myanmar in next 1-3 years?

As I already mentioned, in Myanmar, we cannot directly import product and operate business. We have our reliable partner, Concordia. I do not want to expand the number of partners and only want to deal with our current partner. Mutual trust is most important thing for business. I only want to strengthen our partnership and relationship with current Concordia.

At the moment, other brands have a stronger image in Myanmar. Most of the local people respects to long-service brand. To overcome other brand strong image is not quite easy. The best value and equity of Fuji Xerox can attract Myanmar local people. In my case, CSR activities contributing Myanmar society also can attract local people.

MI: How did you plan to get your more market share than your competitors in Myanmar?

Regarding Myanmar market share, we can divide into three segments: foreign investment companies market, government tender market and local companies market. Local companies market and Government tender market is also huge. At the same time, foreign investment companies market is also expanding. Basically, we already have a good market share in foreign investment companies. At the same time, we try to get more government tenders and into local companies’ market segment.

Last year, we really tried hard to get more market share in government tender segment and we were No 3 ranked company in the government tender segment. Regarding Local customer companies market and foreign investment companies market, our market share is also improving. We are not only selling products but also providing high quality services and solution to customers. Fuji Xerox is No 1 Market Share in Asia Pacifc Countries. My target is to get No 1 market share in Myanmar within the next three years.

MI: Please give your comment on the market potential of the country’s printing technology business.

Middle class population is increasing. GDP per population is now more than 1000 USD. Now everybody is using a mobile phone with a pre-paid card. Sooner or later, Telecommunication companies (Oredoo, Telenor or MPT) will provide post-paid subscribe contract. Every post-paid service will issue one-month bill. For each customer, the bill contains different information. So they will need high-speed digital variable printing is require.

For banking, we need to print monthly transaction bank statement. Currently, we have to go to bank and waiting long time to get bank statement. Sooner or later, e banking will be popular. Personalized secured printing is a must. Furthermore, for Myanmar Stock exchange, printing is a must. We have to use security printing technology. To avoid fake tickets, bar coding is very important too. For inventory management for supermarkets, bar code is very important. Bar code printing must be also printed by variable printing. For high-end hospitals, regarding medical check up, they also require personalized secured printing. We recognized the huge potential of digital variable printing market of Myanmar.

The increase in middle class population means securing the value of lives and enriching people lives. We expected huge market potential for printing in Myanmar. Currently Myanmar printing is mainly focus on off-set printing. Individual variable secure printing needs are expanding. We could see the big opportunity in Myanmar and we will be No 1 market share in Myanmar.

MI: If you could change one major government policy, what would it be?

IF I could change one major government policy, I would like to reduce some of the requirements of foreign investment law.

MI: What advice would you give to a foreign company who is looking up to start up a business and invest in Myanmar?

We come here to do business but also must respect the country. Firstly, respect, appreciation and contribution are the fundamental things to do the business in Myanmar. We must contribute to country, not only earning money. This is my policy. If we only focus on earning money, it will not be a success. Myanmar people are very reliable people. Many media are catching up with Myanmar news. We must appreciate the culture of this country.

I saw so many unsuccessful cases of foreign investment company in Myanmar. In Myanmar, 100 percent foreign invest company cannot do business alone. Reliable good partner is really important. We have to build good relationship with local people. Cooperation and communication play vital role to start up a business in Myanmar.

MI: How are you enjoying your days in Myanmar?

I have been to Bagan and many other scenic places of Myanmar. I totally adore the country. Of course, I am also a buddhist.. I used to go to Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda and Shwedagon Pagoda. It can refresh my mind and take my stress away. To see the people praying, I can be calm and refresh myself. I also have plan to go to meditation center may be this coming Thingyan Festival.