Mark Beauchamp, European marketing manager for Citizen Systems Europe, reflects back on the last quarter of a century as the company celebrates its 25th anniversary.
From now archaic daisy wheel and golf ball printers, through to dot matrix, ink jet and laser, before finally reaching todays thermal methods, the face of the printing industry has changed radically over the last quarter of a century. And we, at Citizen Systems Europe, are proud to have pioneered the way over the last 25 years, as we celebrate our silver anniversary this year.
Founded in 1985 as the sales and marketing arm for Citizen desktop dot matrix printers, we have grown to become a major player in the supply of simple to use and reliable specialised printers. With an extensive network of distributors we are now the leading manufacturer of high quality label, barcode and industrial printers.
In 1988, Citizen Europe, as we were then known, first opened the doors of a purpose-built factory in Scunthorpe. This would quickly become a highly efficient, world-class dot matrix manufacturing facility. At its height, this factory employed more than 300 people and produced over 40,000 printers every month. It was around this time that we introduced our first laser printers onto the market, as well as the first dot matrix printers with multilingual LCD control panels.
With the shift in global manufacturing to the Far East in the 1990s, we moved our production facilities to Japan and China, where they remain, providing our customers with competitively priced high quality technology. Following this stage in our history, we began to specialise in the label and barcode thermal printers that we are best known for today. Early models included the Printiva colour thermal printer and the worlds smallest portable printer at the time, the PN60.
Network of authorised suppliers
Although achieving sustained growth in this area by producing specialised printers for OEM brands like C.Itoh, we made the decision to market and sell our technology under our own brand. As a result another division of Citizen Citizen Business Machines (CBM) merged into Citizen Systems Europe in 2006 to form a single integrated and recognisable brand. Today, we operate across Europe through our network of authorised suppliers, providing customers in a wide range of industries with the very latest printing technology.
While printers remain our core business, weve also been known for putting our hand to developing other technologies in years gone by. At one time we were the largest manufacturer in the world of floppy disk drives, supplying Compaq in Scotland with hundreds of thousands of units a month, and we also produced tiny one-inch hard drives for Hewlett Packard. Citizen was also the producer of many of the original Compaq laptops and our knowledge of this was used in perhaps our most innovative development - a miniature laptop for in co-operation IBM, the PC110. This way-ahead-of-its-time product was a fully functional palm top laptop with a tiny keyboard, which when closed was smaller than a hardback book or video cassette. Today there are a great many PDAs and Netbooks available on the market; however we developed this avant-garde computer over 15 years ago.
Our watch heritage comes through in many areas of our business. We are also one of the worlds leading manufacturers of crystals, used as the timing component in watches, microcomputers and PCs, and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), used as indicator lights on many devices. Furthermore, having produced larger size LCD panels for hand-held games and some early laptops, we now manufacture small-size LCDs for some of the worlds biggest mobile phone brands. In addition, we have developed a wide range of calculator products from pocket and desktop to scientific models.
Today, we have customer sales and technical support operations in many European countries, to market our products throughout Europe, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and all of Africa. Serving these markets we have a pan-European and international network of distributors and value added resellers covering more than 40 countries.
Wide-scale market penetration
Our extensive product range, which encompasses thermal label and barcode printers, portable dot matrix printers, mini and POS printers, receipt and kiosk mechanisms, continues to grow. While our advanced knowledge and networking capabilities have seen us penetrating markets as diverse as industrial, retail, healthcare and mobile applications.
Staying dedicated to our strong working ethics of providing the highest quality products and service we continue to meet the evolving demands of our customers to develop products tailored to specific business demands. At the same time we will remain the company that will set the standard for performance, reliability and value in this sector for years to come.