EXCLUSIVE: Panasonic Australia is looking to a new range of appliances, tough notebooks and intelligent air conditioning systems that calculate how many humans are in a room to lift their revenues to over $1 Billion a year.Earlier this year the Japanese consumer electronics company who reported revenues of $942M for the 2010/2011 financial year vs. $827M in the prior year, moved to cut staff and marketing dollars in Australia as part of an extensive restructure.
They also outsourced part of their sales operation in a move that CEO Steve Rust claims is “not yet measurable”.
Panasonic Australia profits for the 2010/2011 financial year were $13K Vs. $5.8M in the 2009 financial year when the Australian subsidiary allowed for $5,800,000 in income tax expenses, more than $32M was spent on marketing Vs. $14M in the prior year according to their latest financial results.
According to Rust the company has been restructured into three core groups: consumer encompassing TVs, entertainment and digital cameras. An appliances group and a commercial solutions group that includes their highly popular Panasonic tough notebooks, intelligent whiteboards and pro AV gear.
According to Rust TV sales have slumped 25%, however the company that has traditionally sold plasma TVs is experiencing growth in the small LED and LCD TV category. They also are seeing increased demand for “players” such as their Blu ray offering and home theatre kits.
Also booming is demand for Panasonic microwaves with Rust claiming 50% market share and Rust predicts that the company will increase revenues as they expand its appliance operation which has recently moved to hire several people ahead of the introduction of a new range of small appliances, as well as moving into the refrigerator and washing machine markets.
Panasonic is also launching a new range of small appliances including new bread makers, electronic toothbrushes and irons.
The Company that has been highly successful in the Japanese market with appliances has a big focus on high-tech gear using a new patented technology called ecological navigation (ECONAVI), which detects the amount of clothing in the machine and delivers precise levels of energy and water.
The same technology can also detect how “many humans” are in a room and adjust a Panasonic air conditioning system to deliver the most economical settings.
The new technology is set to give Panasonic an advantage over arch rival Fujitsu General who recently reported losses of $2.7M as Panasonic stripped them of market share.
Fujitsu General is the same company that quit the plasma TV market due to mounting losses after Panasonic came into the market with a superior plasma TV offering.
Rust said that the Company plans to launch a new fridge range in March 2011.
In the Commercial Solutions market, a big performer for Panasonic has been the increased demand for the companies Tough notebooks as well as a new range of security systems.
“What we are finding is that companies that have in the past given on the road sales staff notebooks are replacing them with our tough books. We are also picking up business in the medical market with emergency service teams like ambulance drivers using our range of tough book notebooks” said Rust.
Another big market for Panasonic notebooks is the booming resources and mining sector.
The biggest new arrivals are Panasonic’s refrigerators and washers. The fridges have a lot of smarts hidden inside, the standout being a 21-day timing tracker. This gathers intelligence on your typical usage patterns, and learns when the fridge can reduce power consumption to save energy.
Panasonic’s new iron has a plate that is designed with two front ends, so you never get in a tangle when targeting corners.
According to Rust the next 12 months are set to be “tough”.
He said “We are now seeing volatility in the Australian dollar, consumers are still concerned about the financial crisis in Europe and locally there is concern over carbon taxes and interest rates. Increased power costs is also contributing which is why Panasonic is investing significantly in new eco and power management technology” he said.