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Xsomo at 50: Reinvesting in change

The name of its parent company may have long disappeared through acquisition, but Xsomo is continuing to keep pace with change by revising its business model.

Prior to 2006, Xsomo International was called Moore Business Forms Caribbean, but Managing Director Desmond Valentine says while the business landscape has changed dramatically, the company has survived since its formation in 1968 by keeping pace with industry changes.

For Valentine, it is the tech environment that has been driving change in his company, rather than rival operations.

"We've been forced to change. All along, our greatest competitor has not been other printing companies, but rather technology, and we have had to keep pace with it," Valentine told the Financial Gleaner.

In past years, Moore Business Forms was the go to company for bales of specialist printing forms used to generate invoices and reports. But that's when the information technology sector was in its nascent phases. Valentine says there was a time in the early 1970s when only four mainframe computers existed in all of Jamaica, and when banks would generate reports for display on cumbersome forms supplied by his company.

"The whole business of how companies use paper changed. We found that a lot of the companies in, say, the 1980s wanted to do a lot of the processes themselves in-house, but as computers became more ubiquitous, there was a shift having us do those same things using the forms that they used to buy from us," Valentine said.

Xsomo therefore transformed itself from a purveyor of special paper to an information management company. Valentine cites as an example their Jamaica Public Service Company account, where the power utility would calculate its customers' bills, then send the information to Xsomo for both paper-based and digital dissemination. The same obtains with property tax notifications and self-sealed envelopes from financial institutions.

"To manage the information and send it out the way we do now has effectively meant a transformation of our revenue streams. We print a lot of things now that we never did before," Valentine said, noting that the company also does document conversion, records management, data capture and IT infrastructure support (disaster recovery, web hosting and cloud computing).

Xsomo spent US$100 million in 2017 on equipment and training, according to Valentine. Upgrades included printing presses and the expansion of IT systems for information management. The result is that the business for supplying special paper to companies is now dead, but, at the same time, the company continues to grow in printing and information management services.

Xsomo claims about 60 per cent market share on business forms and 90 per cent of the 'print to post', where the company gets the client's information digitally, prints it and returns it by post, according to Valentine.

"We are the only company in the Caribbean that does end-to-end services, that is to say, from digital to print together," said Valentine.

Xsomo will continue to adjust as the market dictates, he said.

The company started out as a joint venture between Moore Corporation of Canada and Jamaican investors. Valentine maintains controlling interest, while other shareholders include MCAL Trading Limited, whose beneficial owner is Norman Sabga of Trinidad & Tobago.

Valentine says the company started with less than 50 people in 1968, but now employs more than 180 persons and another 20 seasonal workers spread between its two plants at Slipe Pen Road and Orange Street in Kingston.…
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