A new third-party consumables manufacturer is about to upset the balance of power in Australia, launching its range of Epson, Canon and HP printer cartridges through a joint venture with office products distributor ACCO.
Peach is a Swiss company with manufacturing operations in Korea. The company has developed its own chip and ink technology to offer compatible printer cartridges at up to half the price of OEM offerings.
Peach is still finalising its supply agreements in Australia, but it is understood ACCO Australia will distribute the product.
"We are in the process of concluding a joint venture for the marketing and distribution of our products in Australia and New Zealand," Rolf Hess, Peach's general manager, told ARN. "We are not quite ready to announce the partnership."
ACCO national marketing manager Mark Griffiths confirmed the company was in discussions with Peach, but said an agreement had yet to be signed.
The issue of OEMs versus third-party manufacturers is a prickly one. Both Epson and Canon declined to comment on Peach's entry into the Australian market, while HP likens using non-genuine ink cartridges to "removing the engine from a car". According to industry reports, HP has agreed to allow Peach to manufacture and sell certain products for which HP does not have patents in certain countries. The arrangement is allegedly part of an out-of-court settlement between the two. Since the settlement, HP has applied for patents across all possible markets.
Paul Connelly, managing director of rival consumables distributor Daisytek, said he declined an offer from Peach because of concerns as to the long-term viability of the product.
"We were offered [the distribution], but turned it down because it is only a short-term market play," he said. "The market probably spans three years," Connelly said. "As new HP product rolls into the market, the old will roll out, so it's pretty short-term."
Peach differs from most other manufacturers in that a separate company called 3T develops the technology and works through the manufacturing process. "We differentiate our product offering from the competition, who call their products compatibles," Hess said. "Any cartridge is compatible. We call ours real alternative cartridges' as they are made from new components, filled with Swiss ink and carefully designed to avoid patent infringements.
"All our ink and laser toner products perform like the originals, with the same yield and the same quality."
Peach's entry into Australia is part of an Asia-wide push. The company also operates in Korea through joint venture company Peach Laminating, and is currently expanding its Peach Products franchises throughout the country. It has also just launched its operations in China and is in the process of setting up an assembly plant for Epson and Canon printers.
"In the rest of Asia, I am in the process of appointing exclusive distributors for each country," Hess said. "All these companies will represent our entire product range for HP, Canon and Epson printers and a range of binding and laminating machines as well as inkjet paper, binding and laminating supplies."