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Having worked in overseas markets for several years, Akihiro Fukaishi, president of Epson China, has his own understanding of the Chinese market for office and home printers, projectors, robots and large-format printers.

He has been heading the China arm of the Japanese technology company Seiko Epson Corp, commonly known as Epson, for more than six months now. Success in China, he said, is of great significance to the company's success in the world.

"The Chinese market is very huge, and the competition here is very fierce. In my view, if we can succeed in China, we can spread the successful experience around the world."

The company will launch new products customized for the Chinese market, to cater to the taste of Chinese consumers.

Fukaishi has worked in Singapore for five years and in Europe for six years. Before coming to China, he was the deputy chief operating officer of the professional printing operations division of Epson.

He has his own views about the globalization, localization and diversification of demand. "My working experience in European countries makes me feel that it is necessary to maintain a global standard. Of course, localization is also important.

"It is important to access the local markets and understand the needs of different customers," he said, adding it is important to draw synergies from the functions of different departments such as procurement, design and R&D to achieve goals.

In his mind, talented human resources are a company's biggest asset. So, the electronics giant is stepping up its business-to-business or B2B efforts by utilizing core technologies and enhancing its localization strategy in China to boost innovation. It is banking on robotics for tapping unidentified growth potential in smaller cities.

"Although the business environment in China has become more competitive, our revenue continued to grow steadily. The profit growth mostly comes from commercial products," said Fukaishi.

Epson's B2B segment has accounted for more than 50 percent of its total business. The company will enhance the share of its B2B business and develop environmentally friendly products to align itself with the country's efforts for environment protection and digitalization.

Fukaishi is bullish on the Chinese market, admitting it is complicated and fast-developing. So he is putting an emphasis on cultivating talent and in complying with local laws and regulations.

"Consumer habits have rapidly changed and internet-based industries and companies have expanded in recent years", he said, adding Epson sees a huge potential for growth in third- and fourth-tier cities of China.

"The key to succeed is 'speed', like how we respond quickly to customers. When we communicate with the technology and product R&D department in Japan, we would ask the senior executives and heads of departments to come to China, in order to let them feel the change of China," he said.

"The biggest responsibility and work for us in China is to ensure the local customer is satisfied with our products, and raise our sales revenue here."

Epson planned to spend 54 billion yen (491 million U.S. dollars)-5.2 percent of its forecast revenue-on R&D in the fiscal year to March 31.

The cumulative sales of Epson ink tank printers in China reached 3.56 million units by October 2017, and its projector business has continued to be the market leader in China for the past six years, with a market share of 22.4 percent, according to Fukaishi.

Its four-axes robots topped market charts in China. It also announced in 2016 it would tap into wearable devices, considering the huge potential for growth in that sector.

Epson will also speed up its localization efforts. It will roll out interactive events so that customers can see, touch and try its products. "For this we have set up solution centers at the Epson headquarters and branch offices in China," said Fukaishi.

The company has also constituted a team of experts to offer business consumers professional and customized services. In August, it set up an exclusive call center for business customers that can minimize downtime and provide one-stop services.

"My management philosophy is to say yes first, and then overcome all kinds of difficulties to satisfy the demands of customers and find a solution," said Fukaishi.

"I play golf at weekends to get relaxation from heavy work, and I also think about how to manage my team during the process."

In 2016, Epson announced its Epson 25 Corporate Vision (2016-25) to Chinese clients, which sets out the company's path for growth until 2025.

The company plans to step up the pace of its technological innovation, not only in traditional fields such as printers and projection equipment, but also by expanding its robotics and wearable devices output.

Its robots, mainly used in the manufacturing of electronic products, can help factory operators deliver more quality products and improve the efficiency and accuracy of assembly lines.

 

Email: tanyuhan@nbd.com.cn