Potential for signage is huge

Shadi Bakhour, B2B Business Unit Director, Canon Middle EastChannel Post speaks with Shadi Bakhour, B2B Business Unit Director at Canon Middle East about growth in the signage industry.

Channel Post (CP): Considering 2016 was a tough year for channel stakeholders, do you see the business picking up in the coming year?
Shadi Bakhour (SB): Despite the volatility around the region, our business operations were quite smooth last year and we are very optimistic about business for Canon Middle East in 2017. There were a few delays as decision makers were very cautious at the beginning of the year but now everything has fallen into place and we see business picking up going ahead.

CP: How is the signage market in the MEA region?
SB: The potential for signage is huge especially in countries like the UAE that are highly committed to transform their cities into smart cities. The signage market in the region is expanding rapidly and UAE still remains the epicentre of the region making it one of the most exciting markets here. We see strong growth potential for both digital and printed signage in this region. The industry has turned the table around boosted by the faster escalation in indoor signage industry as compared to outdoor signage. Today, indoor signage accounts for over 70 per cent of the total output volume of signage in the region.

The signage industry is no longer limited to the conventional industries that we have always been targeting like manufacturing, government, oil and gas, etc. There is now a noticeable demand from new avenues like interior décor and digital packaging industries, causing manufacturers to create newer and better technology. Opening of new malls and a real estate development in the MENA region is expected to boost the signage industry as it contributes heavily in the customer’s brand equity and the marketing communication plan strategy.

CP: Which market verticals do you see revenue coming from?
SB: From a verticals perspective, in inkjet the growth is coming from home segment, in laser our focus would remain on two broad areas – government space and enterprise space. Canon is also strongly focused on verticals such as graphics arts, hospitality and education.

This year we are targeting five main verticals in this region when it comes to consulting – Government, Hospitality, Oil and Gas, Construction and manufacturing. From a geographical front, Canon recently announced the formation of a new Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA) business division.

CP: What are your strategies for 2017?
SB: Our business strategy for 2017 will be to educate our customers on the benefits of adopting quality products rather than simply advertising about our offerings. Last year, we unveiled 12 new printing devices, enhanced our MPS to cover other solutions and finally, the operation of Canon Business Services as our consulting arm. More than simply selling technology and products, we at Canon believe that we need to sell the business value that this technology brings to a company. As a solutions provider, Canon’s main aim to weigh these variables and help our clients decide to go in-house or get their printing needs outsourced.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, has fuelled innovation and citywide transformation amongst industry leaders in the signage industry with his vision of making Dubai a smart city. Canon is aligned with the ruler’s vision to uplift the city through smart technology. We have helped several government entities and international companies in UAE through smart solutions to attain high productivity, increased efficiency and eliminate waste. The contribution we have made in this domain is astronomical when we talk in numbers and we will continue to bring new and innovative solutions this year and forward.