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Panasonic chief vows revival, full forays into autos, homes

by Hiroko Nakata

Staff Writer

Embattled electronics giant Panasonic Corp. vowed Thursday to slash its losses in five business sectors, including televisions and semiconductors, by ¥130 billion over the next three years.

The Osaka-based maker also aims to boost its operating profit to more than ¥350 billion for the business year to March 2016 from ¥140 billion estimated for the year that ends Sunday. It will also gear up growth-making businesses related to the automobile and housing industries.

“Above all, what I have to do during the term is pull our business out of the red as soon as possible,” President Kazuhiro Tsuga told reporters in Tokyo to announce the firm’s new three-year business plan starting April 1.

Panasonic aims to erase the losses in its TV business amid the fierce competition with its Asian rivals, Tsuga said, without getting into specifics. For the business year that ends Sunday, the loss is already expected to be reduced to ¥86 billion from ¥210 billion a year earlier, he said.

Tsuga dodged questions about Panasonic’s rumored withdrawal from plasma display TVs, except to say such an exit would be a last option.

The electronics maker said it will spend about ¥250 billion over the next two years to reform its loss-making segments — television, semiconductors, mobile phones, circuit boards and optical products.

Tsuga said he meanwhile aims to boost the scale of the firm’s automotive business, including sensor devices for safety and lithium-ion batteries, and its housing segment, including in-wall electronics and HEMS (home energy management systems), to sales amounting to ¥2 trillion each.

“These are the sectors where we can make advantage of our DNA as a manufacturer,” Tsuga said. “But we have to wholly engage, not just supply electronics parts.”

Experts have noted that Japanese companies have shortcomings when it comes to providing a business package entailing a complete range of products and services.

“It is a high hurdle for any Japanese company to clear,” said Takashi Hirai, a senior partner at the consultancy Roland Berger Ltd.

But he said Panasonic’s streamlining is right, and the electronics giant has the potential to become a profit-maker again.

  • Al

    I’m not sure can they be profitable or not…
    But the difference between Panasonic goods which they sell in Japan and the one which they export to Europe – is very clear and enormous. The products exported to Europe are clean from any new tech and they are just awful quality made in China.
    For example the washing machines – Panasonic introduced last year only in Japan a model with ability to connect with smartphone by NFC (near field communication) and the ability to control and program machine from the phone. But you won’t find such washing machine in Europe – european model of Panasonic is even visually different and with awful european water using limit (it literally washing clothes in some water droplets – so the clothes will always be with unwashed powder or dirty) and bad total quality. Such awful Panasonic products for Europe is damaging the brand reputation worldwide – because consumers are leaving the negative opinions in their blogs and consumer report resources.
    Panasonic, you need to improve quality of your products and your brand in Europe and other non-japanese markets.