RUSSIAN MARKET IN HALF-YEAR 2021: PANTUM´S RISE
After several years of negative growth due to massive capital flight, the collapse of the rouble, falling oil prices and trade sanctions imposed by the West after the Ukrainian crisis, the Russian economy had returned in H1 2021 to modest growth for the first time since 2017, driven mainly by natural resources extraction and private consumption. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic complications, the economy contracted to -3.1% GDP in 2020 (from +2% in 2019), as exports, investment activity and consumer demand all plunged. But in June 2021, Russian gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to have increased by 8.5%. In March 2021 it has taken a positive value for the first time since March 2020.
Russia has almost inexhaustible natural resources, which form the very foundation of its economy and function as a strong stabilizing factor during crisis. It is the world’s second largest producer of natural gas after the United States, and the third largest producer of petroleum, but also one of the main producers and exporters of diamonds, nickel and platinum. Between late 2019 and mid-2020, three new gas pipelines (to Germany, Turkey and China) were scheduled to start operating, when the pipeline to Germany (Nord Stream 2) is supposed to start operating by the end of 2021, the pipeline to Turkey (Gazprom) started to operate in January 2020, and the pipeline to China (Gazprom) operates since December 2019. Despite its huge area, Russia has relatively little arable land due to unfavourable climatic conditions. The country nevertheless owns 10% of the world’s agricultural land and is one of the main cereals exporters.
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most economic sectors decreased. Tourism, restaurants, entertainment and the beauty industry were the hardest sectors hit by the second wave. To a lesser extent, the agriculture sector has been temporarily impacted by the lockdown measures preventing seasonal workers from coming to Russia, but it proved to be very resilient to the crisis. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, in H1 2021 Russia’s agricultural production increased.
The unemployment rate was falling before the COVID-19 crisis, but real wages had also fallen. Social inequalities remain high both in large cities and rural areas. Only 1% of the population owns around 70% of private assets, worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Despite the emergence of an urban middle class, the poverty rate remains at around 13%. A middle class protest movement calls for an end to corruption and patronage, however these patterns are deeply embedded into the Russian system and any attempts to change them will be unsuccessful in the near future.
II. MARKET STATS
The total toner-based Copier/MFP Russian market increased by 5%, and the personal Copier/MFP category registered an increase of 4% to 370k units with BW personal Copier/MFPs market recording an increase of 5%, representing a commanding 95% share of the total personal category. During the same period, the personal color market declined 23%.
On the other hand, the total office market sales were up 9% and represented a 25% share of the total Copier/MFP market. The BW office Copier/MFPs represented an 85% share of the total office market, and its sales increased 11%, while the color office market increased 5%.
Within the personal category in terms of models, HP placed four models in the top ten, Pantum three models, Canon two and Xerox one. The number one bestseller was HP´s LaserJet Pro MFP M28a, followed by Pantum´s M6550NW and HP´s LaserJet Pro MFP M428dw. In the office category, Kyocera models occupied the first five positions, with a number one bestseller ECOSYS M2235 DN, followed by ECOSYS M2040 DN and ECOSYS M2735 DN, followed by Pantum. Pantum placed three models in the top ten, with the M6700DW at sixth place and M7300FDW at seventh place.
The total toner-based single function page printer market (proportionally 46% of the total toner-based Copier/MFP market) registered a decrease of 7%, the BW SFP market decreasing by 9% and representing a 93% share of the total SFP sales. The color SFP category registered an increase of 18%. Xerox took the top spot within the SFP market with its model Phaser 3020 BI, followed by Pantum with P2200 and HP with its Laser 107a Printer.
The total inkjet market (proportionally about 70% of the size of the toner-based Copier/MFP market) increased 21%, driven by growth in both the consumer/home market (representing 89% of total inkjet sales) by 7%, and the business market, which was up by 226% from approx. 19k to 61k units. The popular category of ink tank/CISS devices increased 49% and represented a 61% share of the total inkjet market. Within the inkjet business market dominated by Epson with a market share of 83%, the sales of inkjet CISS devices (manufactured solely by Epson) soared by 727%, from about 6k units to 48k units.
Within the inkjet market personal segment, both HP and Canon placed five models in the top ten bestselling models six models, with number one bestseller HP´s DeskJet 2320 AiO, followed by Pixma MG 2540S and Pixma G 3411 – a CISS models, also the bestselling CISS personal model. In the business category, Epson placed eight models within the first top ten positions, number one was EcoTank ET-M2110, followed by EcoTank ET-M1120 and EcoTank ET-M1100 – all these being CISS models.
The total Large format printer in Russia was up 45% in H1 2021 compared to H1 2020. The Water-based ink type category (represented 86% of the total market) increased also at the rate of 45% to the level of approx. 4.7k units, while the Solvent category registered an increase of 19%, the UV-LED cure category increased 71%, the Latex category increased 67%, whilst the dye-sublimation category increased by 35%. A new LFP category has emerged in H1 2021 – the Resin LFP, represented so far only by Epson´s SureColor SC-R5010L model (2 units of them). The Direct to Garment industry increased 35% with market leaders Ricoh, Epson and Brother.
Regarding the Document scanners, this market has decreased by 9% in H1 2020, despite increases of No. 1 Canon (12%) and No. 2 Avision (396%), however, Brother fell heavily by 89%. As for Consumer scanners this category decreased 12%.
III. PANTUM´S RISE
One of the most important highlights of the Russian printing market in H1 2021 was the ascendancy of the Pantum brand, which reached all-time high positions when it finished 2nd behind HP in the personal category, and 2nd behind Kyocera in the office category. The Chinese company Ninestar, founded in the year 2000, is among others the owner of Pantum (formally since 2020) and Lexmark (since 2016). Founded in 2010, Pantum is a Chinese printer manufacturer, with its business covering printers, printing materials, and printing solutions and services. In 2010 Pantum launched its first printer in the Great Hall of the People, a state building in the Tiananmen Square in Beijing when the printer was promoted as the first “independent” Chinese printer. In 2011, Pantum began its overseas expansion with a current global footprint of dozens of countries.
In the personal copier/MFP category, Pantum recorded a unit sales increase of 170% and moved from 5th to 2nd place, overtaking Brother, Canon and Xerox, while in the office category moved from 4th to 2nd place, overtaking Xerox and HP with a unit sales increase of 148%. In Russia, Pantum has four official distributors – OCS, DNS, Asbis, Treolan, and created a partner network that includes major online and offline channel platforms like DNS shop, Citilink, Mvideo, Ozon, and Wildberries. In addition, a national customer service network was established in Russia, which covers eight regions, more than 200 cities and cooperates with more than 500 service providers. Each purchase comes with a two-year warranty and easy online verification with a QR code. It is interesting to note that Pantum presence in the remaining EEU markets was only marginal. From the revenue point of view, Pantum finished in Russia in H1 2021 only in the 9th place due to the low prices of the devices. However, the year 2021 will surely be a pivotal year for Pantum.
Pantum´s prosperity in the retailer to end-user segment is strongly linked to the success of the “young” retail chain company – DNS. Unlike other large retail companies, DNS didn´t start in Russia´s central (Moscow) or Northern (Petersburg) regions. Instead, it started its business activity from the East, when its first shop was opened in Vladivostok, and the second in Nakhodka. By 2010, DNS operated about a hundred shops in 28 Russian cities. In 2011 the company entered the Central Russian region, and by the year 2020 there were about 1.900 shops. The DNS company was the first to sell the Pantum printers in their shops directly to the public.
Pantum´s reasons of success in H1 2021 can be summed up as follows:
- Competitive prices, especially after the 2014 crisis (rouble devaluation), when all vendors started to raise prices gradually, but Pantum didn´t and became more price attractive
- Participation in both public and commercial tenders
- Expansion of partner´s network (Asbis, Treolan, Marvel)
- Development of the retail network (Mvideo, CitiLink, etc.)
- Low prices for consumables and steady availability of official refill kits
- Own factories for device manufacturing
Fitch Ratings has affirmed Russia’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘BBB’ with a Stable Outlook. Sanctions risk remains high. Notwithstanding the moderate near-term stabilisation in the US relationship following June’s presidential summit, there is a sizeable risk of additional sanctions over time. Broad-based US sanctions on the Russian banking sector or the energy sector, which could have a more significant impact on credit fundamentals, is not the most likely outcome, but the relationship continues to be uncertain and subject to downside risk.
Internationally, as the US president took office in January 2021, bilateral relations with the US have entered another period of uncertainty. After agreeing to normalise the situation in north-western Syria in 2019, Russia and Turkey’s relationship benefited again from the Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal brokered by Moscow and signed by the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in November 2020. For the first time in three years the Russian and Ukrainian presidents met over the Donbass conflict in December 2019, but no peace solution was found yet, and the April 2020 summit between Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In November 2020, Russia and Belarus signed an agreement on police and security operations. A year before, as the Kremlin intensified pressure on Belarus by rising energy prices and cutting subsidies, fears of a merger plan between the two countries were already expressed.
President Vladimir Putin will probably dominate the political scene at least beyond 2024, as constitutional changes give him a number of options to remain in power. Tensions with the West are high, especially following Russia’s military build-up along the Ukraine border. The EU and US sanctions will most probably remain in place in 2021-25.
Russia’s GDP growth is forecast at 3.2% in 2021, followed by 3.2% and 2.3% in 2022 and 2023, respectively, according to the World Bank’s latest Russia Economic Report. Global economic recovery, higher oil prices, and soft domestic monetary conditions in 2021 are expected to support a recovery led by household consumption and public investment.Contact infosource Petr Kramerius, Regional Manager [email protected] Boris Kuschev, Regional Manager [email protected]