End of an era at Fujifilm

Shigetaka Komori, the 81-year old head of Fujifilm, has stepped down from his roles as chairman, CEO and representative director for both Fujifilm Holdings corporation and its subsidiary Fujifilm Corporation, marking the end of an era at Fujifilm and clearing the way for a new management team as well as giving the company the opportunity to reorganise itself.

Shigetaka Komori managed Fujifilm’s transition from film to digital imaging and healthcare. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Kenji Sukeno, up to now the president and COO, will take over as Chairman, while Teiichi Goto moves up from being a director in charge of the medical division to President and CEO. All of these changes were passed at a board of directors meeting on 31 March but are subject to a vote at the next shareholder’s general meeting in June. 

Komori, who will be 82 in September, will take on a new role as chief advisor to the company. He has led Fujifilm as president and representative director since 2000, having joined the company in 1963. He oversaw a significant increase in Fujifilm’s share of the Fuji Xerox business with the company eventually holding 75 percent of the joint venture. However, the proposed merger with Xerox failed to materialise, leaving Fujifilm with 100 percent of Fuji Xerox – since renamed Fujifilm Business Innovation – but without the vital access to the US market or the technology sharing agreements. 

However, he also acquired a number of companies to diversify Fujifilm’s business, allowing Fujifilm to survive the transition to digital and away from its core product of photographic film. The list includes: the micro-electronic materials business of Arch Chemicals, currently Fujifilm Electronics Materials in 2004; the Sericol Group, currently Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems in 2005; Avecia Inkjet Ltd, now Fujifilm Imaging Colorants in 2006; printhead manufacturer Dimatix, now Fujifilm Dimatix, in 2006. Throughout his tenure Fujifilm also acquired a slew of medical and pharmaceutical companies, including most recently the diagnostic imaging business from Hitachi. The end result is that Komori’s legacy is that he leaves Fujifilm in a much stronger position than other rivals from the film era, notably Kodak. 

The change in the management team reflects the wider changes within Fujifilm. The company has now reorganised itself into three main divisions: Healthcare, effective from 1 April; Imaging, also started from 1 April; and Graphics, due to start 1 July this year. Of these, the Healthcare division seems to be positioned as the main driver for growth, at least in the immediate future for Fujifilm. This is made up of Medical Systems – mainly devices for diagnoses – plus a new Life Sciences strategy that is actively seeking alliances and acquisitions and with a stated aim to become a leader within the life science industry through the creation of cutting-edge medicine.

Fujifilm’s Covid-19 AG Test uses silver halide technology from photo development

Indeed, last week the company introduced its Covid-19 AG test, which can detect antigens associated with SARS Cov-2. The kit, to be sold as in-vitro diagnostic medical device, was developed with the use of highly-sensitive detection technology based on silver halide amplification used in the photo-developing process. The test kit does not require any additional equipment as the result can be checked visually on the spot after applying a sample into a cartridge included in the kit.

The new Imaging division has been formed by merging the Photo Imaging Products Division and the Optical Device & Electronic Imaging Products Division with the idea that this will lead to the development of new products and services from imaging devices to photo printing systems and services. This includes a wide range from instant film and digital cameras through to lenses for broadcast TV cameras.

The Graphics Division will be formed by reversing the remnants of Fuji Xerox, under its new FBI moniker, into the existing Graphics Systems Business. This is really the only option available and one that Fujifilm had already signalled last year when it announced that it would not renew the Technology Agreement covering technology and brand licensing with Xerox, which expired on 31 March 2021. Only time will tell how well this works out…

In the meantime, you can find more information from fujifilm.com.

…with a little help from my friends

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