HP IPG boss vows to end laser printer drought

The UK head of HP's printer division expects the LaserJet drought to be all-but-over by the summer, almost a year after it first emerged. At the same time, the printer linchpin is working on a blueprint to improve forecasting so that it does not again get caught short to the same degree. Norman Ri

The UK head of HP's printer division expects the LaserJet drought to be all-but-over by the summer, almost a year after it first emerged.

At the same time, the printer linchpin is working on a blueprint to improve forecasting so that it does not again get caught short to the same degree.

Norman Richardson, HP UK and Ireland vice president for the Imaging and Printing Group (IPG), said the "unprecedented" downturn in the industry had forced it to "make some big calls" about production capacity.

"As we ramped down things started to pick up and we've been chasing that pick up for some time," he told MicroScope.

It has re-opened some production lines and plans to crank up more, "availability will certainly be much better through Q3 and I'd expect that by Q4 you'd see us get back to a much higher level than before," he added.

He insisted that contrary to speculation, HP remained committed to the laser business and had not prioritised supply to its direct managed print services sales team.

One lesson the vendor appears to have learnt is the need to better forecast market demand through channel partners.

"The demand forecasting process never needed to be as good as it needs to be now, things were different then and that differing world required less depth and connection on the forecasting," said Richardson.

"We are already starting the process to get the right demand signals going back into our manufacturing forecasts; account by account forecasting by SKU. People may not like that but in this world that is the level of detail we need," he said.

The laser shortages have presented partners with a significant challenge since last summer,  they are hoping the situation dramatically improves and would be willing to work with HP to resolve the issues.

However, one warned "entry level products are difficult to forecast a long way out."

Richardson said he wanted to "thank the channel for its continued support" during these times of great shortage.

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