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Ricoh Is Optimistic Despite Copier/Printer Industry's Slowdown

4 Jun, 2001 By: Buyers Laboratory, Inc. imageSource

Ricoh Is Optimistic Despite Copier/Printer Industry's Slowdown

In a recent teleconference, Jim Ivy, executive vice president of Ricoh Corporation based in West Caldwell, NJ, reported that the last quarter of 2000 was “one of the greatest in the company's history,” with 22 percent revenue growth in the United States over the same quarter in the previous year. In the same period unit sales rose 32 percent and profits rose 21 percent, spurred by big increases (32 percent) in unit sales. The company, which recently completed its acquisition of Lanier, reported it had recently won a $200 million single-source supplier contract with the United States Postal Service.

Much of Ricoh's growth has come in the company's Segment 5 and 6 products, and according to Ivy, approximately 50 percent of its growth has come from replacements of Xerox equipment, primarily analog. The fastest growing sector has been with the company's 55-ppm unit, where production has had difficulty keeping up with demand, resulting in a back-order situation over the past four or five months. Ricoh has opened a new production facility in Japan to help meet demand and says it does not anticipate any ongoing problems.

Like other vendors in this business, Ricoh says it intends to “reinvent itself to be more of a printer-based company, as well as a provider of services and solutions.”

New Color Models On The Way

Color is another area of focus for the company. A few weeks ago Ricoh unveiled the Aficio Color 3506 and 4506 color multifunctional products, successors to the 3006, 4006 and 4106. These models are the first to offer fax capability in color (a single color). While these models are geared to the office market, Ron Potesky, director of printer and color systems marketing, indicated that Ricoh will be introducing a 13-ppm color device geared to print-for-pay markets scheduled for availability late in the “next few months.” Positioned at the low end of the high-end color market, the new unit will be based on laser technology. On the horizon for late in the second or third quarter is a 25-plus-ppm color printer, which was previewed at COMDEX and which will also use laser technology.

“For color, Ricoh is convinced that laser delivers the best output,” said Potesky. He added, however, “That's not to say that we're not evaluating LED.”

Whereas some vendors seem to have been ignoring fax recently, Ricoh says that fax, especially Internet fax, is an important component of Ricoh's overall product line, in standalone units as well as a component of multifunctional products. Ricoh just announced two new fax machines, the FAX 3900L, the successor to the FAX3800L, and the FAX3900NF (Network Fax), which differs only in that Internet fax capability is bundled as a standard capability, while it is optional on the FAX3900L. According to Ricoh, the FAX3900L is the first fax to offer a dial-up connection to the Internet with options. Due out next month is the FAX2050L, a replacement for the FAX2000L.

Ricoh also announced a change in its usual forum for unveiling its new products. Whereas in the past, new products were unveiled at the Agenda dealer meeting, this year Ricoh will present its new products directly to end users in three cities (New York, Chicago and Los Angeles) beginning in mid-September. The company says it will be introduce 40 new products, including controllers and software, in the coming year.

Regarding Lanier, Ricoh's newly acquired subsidiary, which brings a large, global direct sales component to Ricoh's distribution, for now at least it will be business as usual.

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