* Ikon clients switching from rival gear to Ricoh's smoothly
* Aims for 2009/10 profit growth despite headwind
TOKYO, March 5 - Ricoh Co Ltd said its products accounted for 90 percent of sales at Ikon in January, up from 30 percent before the office equipment distributor was acquired by the Japanese copier maker last year, underlining a smooth consolidation of the key U.S. unit.
Ricoh, the world's largest copier maker, said it aimed to raise its profits in the year from April despite a tough business environment, thanks to bigger contributions from Ikon and its high-end printer business.
Ricoh bought Ikon Office Solutions for $1.6 billion in October, delivering a heavy blow to rival Canon Inc, whose machines had represented 60 percent of the products Ikon handled before the October acquisition.
Investors have been keeping a close eye on Ikon's performance during the transition from an independent distributor to a Ricoh unit due to concerns that some of its existing clients may leave Ikon to keep using rival products.
"We ourselves have been worried about that, too. But all of its clients said they have no problem with Ricoh machines except for one company, which did not give us a clear answer," Ricoh Chief Executive Shiro Kondo told Reuters in an interview.
Kondo said he aims for sales and profit growth in the year starting April 1 as it benefits from a full-year profit contribution from Ikon, and its commercial printing business will likely take off in the new business year.
"We have conducted various acquisitions such as the Ikon purchase and joined new business areas," Kondo said on Thursday.
"And we are now entering a period of reaping profits, although it is not very fortunate for us that the timing of profit-reaping coincides with this tough business environment."