Stuart Holmes, managing director of Kodak paper and chemistry supplier, Independent Photo (IPS), has moved quickly to reassure customers regarding ongoing supply in the wake of the troubled US manufacturer’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing.
‘There is no reason for anyone to have concerns about product availability,’ he said, and recommended against panic buying.
‘People shouldn’t be concerned, shouldn’t panic buy. Though we would love the extra sales, in reality carrying extra inventory will only impact your cashflow for no good reason.’
He said that although Eastman Kodak’s corporate message was that it was all ‘business as usual’ in reality business hasn’t really been ‘as usual’ for some time for photo retailers.
‘This is not anything new. In the ‘Digital Era’ we’ve lived in “interesting times” for the last 10 years with changes in technology and the way we do things,’ he said.
‘IPS was born in the digital era and has been correctly structured and built from the ground up, and has managed these types of situations before for our customers with both of the previous situations from Agfa and Konica.
‘But we believe Kodak is here to stay, albeit as a restructured and streamlined, refocused company,’ added Mr Holmes. ‘We anticipate that Kodak will come out the other side of The Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, in much the same way as many, many other American companies, like General Motors, Harley Davidson, Texaco, Continental Airlines, Southland Company (7-Eleven), Macy’s, Toys-R-Us and more.’
Among other associated photographic lab supplies and technical support, IPS is a supplier of Kodak paper, chemistry and support services to independent retailers and pro labs in Australia and New Zealand. Other Kodak suppliers to various channels are APS, C-Direct and UCC, all of whom source product from a large central finishing and distribution facility in Xiamen, China.
The Kodak factory shipment turnaround time from our bulk order to shipment and delivery is only five weeks.
There have been numerous epitaphs for Eastman Kodak written in the general and finance media in the past couple of weeks, but the Kodak brand will not disappear, and the company is continuing to manufacture and trade.
‘Chapter 11 does not mean that Kodak is going out of business,’ Eastman Kodak CEO Antonio Perez explained in a letter to customers.
‘US chapter 11 is a mechanism that generally focusses on the preservation and reorganisation of ongoing operating customers.
‘Chapter 11 will allow us to continue normal business operations while we restructure our debt, costs and other obligations and gives us much more flexibility to address these matters while preserving the fundamental value of our business and operations.
Central to continuing to trade is a US$950 million line of credit from Citigroup to cover operating costs through 2012 and into 2013.
Mr Holmes said he was ‘absolutely 100 percent convinced’ that Kodak paper and chemistry supplies will be available at the end of 2012 and beyond.
He said that Kodak has even announced new paper products still coming through the development pipeline, with a new Professional Endura Family Range of media called “Premier” recently announced, and Professional Grade Wedding/ Portrait paper, a new Endura Metallic Paper, and Display Media to be released.
IPS offers a full range of Kodak products including chemistry for the consumer-grade Kodak Edge and Kodak Royal ranges and for the pro labs, Kodak Brilliance and the Kodak Endura family range of display medias and papers.
This is in addition to the non-Kodak lines including CPAC Chemistry, Mitsubishi Grace Paper, and IPS’s budget-priced IPS ‘Fighting Paper’.
‘The IPS Fighting Paper is strategically important to us and our customers. When under competitive pressure from 10 and 15 cent prints, IPS Fighting Paper for 6×4’s provides a loss leader solution you can afford.’
He said that silver halide has proven to be remarkably resilient technology which still produced the cheapest, best quality images faster than competing alternatives such as inkjet and dye sublimation.
‘Silver halide isn’t as dead as many thought it would be by now. Predictions of the demise of the silver halide in minilabs and pro labs are greatly exaggerated.
‘I feel very comfortable that silver halide has plenty of life in it. It’s still the highest quality and yet the most economic media.
‘And Independent Photo (IPS) is not only the best technical resource in the industry today, but moreover are the experts in stock management, logistics and crisis management – because it really is not “Business as Usual” but managed business!’ Mr Holmes concluded.