Worldwide reports that Toshiba is looking to exit the LCD TV market are wrong, claims Toshiba Australia CEO Mark Whittard. What the company is looking to do is exit the LCD commercial TV market, which he admits has struggled for some years.
The confusion came about after a senior vice president and director of Toshiba in Japan, Fumio Muraoka, told journalists at the end of a financial briefing that Toshiba was considering pulling out of the LCD TV market.
At the time he said, “Our LCD display business has been worsening, and we are in very difficult circumstances. We are now considering how to respond to the problem and if cost reduction is enough.”
He said that Toshiba’s LCD display business recently posted an operating loss of US$211 million between April and December 2009. Since then the situation has worsened, Muraoka claimed.
According to Whittard, Toshiba’s overall consumer TV business is profitable both globally and in Australia.
“There has been some confusion. The LCD business the media have picked up on is the commercial display business. Our consumer display business is healthy and in the black. The division that they are talking about is a small business that is struggling,” he said.
According to Toshiba’s third-quarter results, the consumer TV and audio products division grew in the last quarter, with its digital media network business recording increased revenues in the third quarter. “This was largely due to the healthy performance of audio visual products, especially TVs,” the company wrote in its quarterly report.
According to Whittard, Toshiba Australia is looking to expand its TV presence in Australia. “The commercial division, which is what Muraoka was referring to, has been suffering for some time. Two years ago, when I approached this division with a view to launching commercial display screens in Australia, I was told that the division was struggling. This is a tough business that is more than just a display screen, it needs infrastructure,” he said.
In Australia, Toshiba has done extremely well in the LCD TV market, with the company holding onto the #5 slot behind Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and LG.
A key part of the Toshiba line-up in Australia is its below-40″ model range, as well as its new LCD Combo TVs that come complete with a DVD player.
“Since entering the AV market two and a half years ago we’ve made significant inroads in building our market share,” Whittard said.
“Our new LCD models are another significant step towards growing the AV business even further.
“By adding more innovative technologies into our line-up we aim to deliver an outstanding entertainment experience for our customers,” he said.