Printers get $94 million boost from Canon

The Japanese office equipment maker plans to nearly double its annual production of inkjets in 2005 compared with last year.

Canon on Friday said it would invest about 10 billion yen, or $93.99 million, to nearly double its annual production of inkjet printers in 2005 compared with last year.

Japan's largest maker of office equipment said it will build new plants on existing manufacturing sites in Fukushima prefecture, north of Tokyo, and in Vietnam, while boosting production lines at a printer factory in Thailand, which is currently running near full capacity.

It said the moves would lift its production of inkjet printers, including multifunction and single-function models, to about 20 million units in 2005. Last year it produced around 10.6 million ink-jet printers.

Canon is trying to strengthen its presence in the worldwide printer market but faces severe competition from U.S.-based Hewlett-Packard and Japan's Seiko Epson.

According to Gartner Dataquest, Canon held 16.2 percent of the global printer market in 2003, third behind Seiko Epson at 22.1 percent and Hewlett-Packard's 39.5 percent.

Canon estimates its global market share in single-function inkjet printers was about 20 percent in unit terms last year. Its share of the multifunction market was around five percent.

The plant in Vietnam is due to be completed by March 2005. The new capacity will be used to assemble printer bodies and for production of sensors for scanners in multifunction machines.

Canon will aim to complete the new factory in Fukushima by June this year. It will be used to boost production of such items as inkjet cartridges.

Canon's investment in printers follows a similar move to bolster its copier operations unveiled last month.

It said it would spend about $188 million on a new domestic plant at Toride in Ibaraki prefecture, near Tokyo, for high-end copiers to accelerate product development and cut costs.

Story Copyright  © 2004 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.

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