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Marcello PetrucciThe year 2004 is going to be another great year for us in Europe and worldwide, says Petrucci We have worked hard to achieve the 2003 results (12% overall growth, 13% growth in hand held readers [HHR]compared with 4.4% growth in the HHR market, 29% growth for mobile computerscompared with 4.3% in the market, and overall profits of Euro 7.18 million, which is +33.9% compared with 2002), and we are already running the 2004 challenge with a lot of news: products, activities, organisation and more.

What is your focus for 2004 and 2005?

We are a technological company so of course, technology is our main interest and focus. Therefore, new products and ideas are at the basis of the 2004 challenge.

After achieving the number 1 position in 2002 in the European ranking of hand held reader manufacturers, beating the historical leadership of the first American vendor, we are now strongly aiming for a top position in the Mobile Computer market. Last year we were encouraged by the significant growth in our Mobile@Work family of ruggedised computers for industrial and logistics environments. Several important End users like DHL, Danzas, Frankfurt Airport, Hilti, and many more have recognised the quality of our technologies and we are now negotiating projects with a lot of potential new customers.

This fact is driving us to invest more and more in this range of products and employ new experienced people either in technical support or sales. In the next 12 months, many new products will be added to our current offer completing either our Professional product line or the Mobile@Work range with a family of revolutionary .net terminals and new SW tools and Services.

Going back to the HHR product range mentioned before, our energies are focused today on the Heron new bar code reader, for which we are organising a big launch campaign that also includes adverts in the prestigious pages of IT Reseller.

What is the Heron and what does it represent for Datalogic in the near future?

The Heron is the new tool that will consolidate our lead position in the hand held reader market. It is not just one more product in the catalogue, but rather, a real weapon to conquer new market share in segments where traditionally we have been less present.

The Heron is again a mixture of tradition and innovation. Tradition because it carries all the experience we have gathered from our best seller Gryphon instinctive reader (the gun that has awarded us the European leadership) with the addition of several new and innovative features.

The Heron is our first product exclusively for the retail market. We are targeting distributors that wish to offer a POS solution with a very high performance/price ratio in hands-free reading applications.

The reader uses the most advanced long range CCD technology, which is a direct result of our experience in image capture and processing, and can be considered as the first long range CCD reader especially for these kinds of applications. Our aim is to propose the most reliable and fastest reader in its category that challenges all of our competitor products as a result of its innovative features.

Our intention is to expand our market share in retail applications by giving the opportunity to many potential resellers to become our partners with a new product that will definitely open a new distribution channel and new business opportunities for us, without having any impact on traditional channels.

How are you planning to distribute the Heron and how will it affect your distribution network?

The Heron will be available through our well-known distribution channel that we call the Datalogic Quality Partner Network we established in 1996. Of course, it will mainly pass through a two-tier distribution model of our best national and multinational distributors. We are preparing joint marketing activities with distributors that have knowledge of and resellers in the retail world. The Heron will of course be available from our Quality Partners whenever they will have to deal with retail applications, in addition to all the other outstanding products they are used to selling (e.g. cordless Gryphon).

We are also expecting to capture the interest of the best Retail Solution Providers (we already partner with many of them) to enable them to increase the value and innovative level of their offer.

Will your distribution channelthe QP Networkchange in the future?

This question is best answered by Roberto Tunioli, Datalogic Vice Chairman and CEO who affirms that Datalogic's philosophy is based on networking. We confirm our partnership policy that was established many years ago for creating value, where the competencies and experience of Datalogic and its partners are brought together to better respond to the needs of users, in a process that enables all players to achieve a better ROI.

How are you planning to continue growing over the next two to three years?

As mentioned we still have a lot of work to do in Europe. This is where we have our roots and where we know the market, behaviour, and channel. Therefore, there is only one possible answer: new products and services for new markets and applications. We will improve our focus on the Retail business, and are expecting a dramatic increase in mobile warehouse applications in the manufacturing and retail sectors.

In addition, we are looking to strengthen our position in the EMEA area as well as in the east of both Europe and the world where our market share is lower than here.

How are you planning to do that and do you think that the USD/ exchange rate will make it a very difficult job?

We will consolidate and strengthen the channel and we are planning new investments in people and marketing. We need to continue supporting the Datalogic Brand, in these regions and will do it with a balanced plan of investments as we have done in the past in other areas. We have already accepted the difficulties of competing against vendors who sell in USD. We are ready to put local distributors in the condition to compete, while protecting their margin. Gaining market share in a profitable way is our first target to be ready to play even better and stronger when an improved equilibrium will be established between the USD and Euro.

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