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Reading

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I. Read the text about the French company, Bic. Can you name three of Bic’s products?

Bic’s success in a throwaway

Bic is a household name, synonymous with a disposable age*

Few companies can say that they are responsible for changing the everyday habits of billions of people throughout the world, but the French company Bic, founded in 1950, is one that can.

The ballpoint pen came first. The original biros – named after Lazlo Biro, their Hungarian inventor – were expensive and difficult to use. Baron Marcel Bich, the owner of a small office supplies company, brought together French and British scientists to refine* and modify* the design. He negotiated the rights to produce and sell the pen with Biro. Production of the Bic “Crystal” began in 1953. The “Crystal” had a clear blue plastic tube and a visible ink supply which was sufficient to draw a line three kilometers long.

Sales rose from around 50,000 a week in the first year to a quarter of a million a day by 1956. Today sales of Bic writing instruments total more than 20 million a day in 160 countries.

Bich was not content with a one-product business and wanted to find other throwaway ideas. In 1972 came the disposable lighter. It is another success story which made Bic world leaders in the sector, with daily sales of disposable lighters now numbering almost 4 million.

Bic’s winning formula was a combination of simplicity of production and reliability; the company claims that its lighters will work 3,000 times compared with competing brands’ 1,000.

The company used healthy profits to invest in its third major product range – the throwaway
razor – in 1975. It now contests market leadership with Gillette.* Bic subsequently diversified
further – into windsurfing boards and fashion – but the three original throwaway ideas remain its
success stories.

From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

II. Read the text again and complete this company history.

1950 The company was founded.

1950-53 Laslo Biro invented the first pen.

Marcel Bich ____ and _____ the design. Bich negotiated with Biro to ______.

1953 Production of the ______ began.

1956 Sales of the biro rose to ______ .

1972 Bic invented ______.

1975 Bic invented _______.

Now Bic sells _______ ballpoint pens per day.

Bic sells _______ disposable lighters per day.

Bic and _______ are leaders in the market for disposable razors.

III. What are the advantages of disposable or "throwaway" products?

 


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