Japan's Seiko Epson Corp. unveiled plans to double output and sales of laser printers, taking aim at a segment of the market where it has lagged global rivals such as Hewlett-Packard and Canon Inc.
Seiko Epson is said to be the world's second-largest maker of ink jet printers behind U.S.-based Hewlett-Packard, but it controls only 2 to 3 percent of the market for laser models, which are typically used in offices and are pricier than ink-jet models.
The company said it would focus on color laser printers, which are growing at a much faster rate than cheaper black-and-white models, although monochrome printers still make up roughly 90 percent of the global market in unit terms.
"As a comprehensive printer maker we naturally want to strengthen our position in the corporate area and not rely solely on the consumer market," Takashi Suzuki, chief executive of Epson's laser printer operations, said in a statement to Reuters. "We have a relatively high share of color models. And given the shift in the office to color documents, we would expect sales of color laser printers to increase and our share of the market to increase in turn."
To help strengthen its business, Mr. Suzuki said the company would bring more production of printer engines in-house, a move that would likely accelerate product development and help the company earn higher margins on its hardware sales.
It currently procures some of its engines from Fuji Xerox, an office equipment maker owned 75 percent by Fuji Photo Film and 25 percent by U.S.-based Xerox, and Konica Minolta Holdings, according to an industry source.
"We plan to gradually increase the number of printers using our own engines," Mr. Suzuki said, noting that Epson was already making engines for some models. "But we do not plan to make them all ourselves." (Reuters)
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