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Panasonic seeks to more than double its Mideast, Africa business

Japanese firm plans to introduce products that are in the mid- to high-end segment, regional managing director says

Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News
Hiroki Soejima, Managing Director of Panasonic Marketing Middle East and Africa (PMMAF)
Gulf News

Dubai: Panasonic expects its Middle East and Africa (MEA) business to more than double this fiscal year as it continues its transformation from an electronics company into a more diversified group.

“We achieved our business plan in the first quarter of this fiscal year and our business grew around 5 per cent. We expect a growth of between 10-15 per cent for the fiscal year which ends in March 2018,” Hiroki Soejima, who took over as the new managing director of Panasonic Marketing Middle East and Africa (PMMAF) in April, said in an exclusive to Gulf News.

The Japanese company has chalked out its growth strategy for the next three years in a bid to cut its reliance on consumer electronics and focus more on the business-to-business (B2B) segment.

Soejima said that business-to-customer (B2C) is still a strong market in the Middle East and “we are expanding our product portfolio. Now, Panasonic will come with its full product line-up, from small to major appliances”.

Due to less advertisement in the past, he said that the brand awareness is weakening and in a bid to reboot our brand awareness, “we will spend more on advertising for enhancing our premium product line-up”.

The company plans to introduce products that are in the mid- to high-end segment so that weighted average prices will increase.

Panasonic’s small appliances and major appliances registered double-digit growth while conventional telephone and office automation products maintained market leadership. In B2B segment, professional audio visual, broadcast and security cameras were the key category drivers.

Compared to the competitors, he said that Panasonic does not have a strong presence in the shop front.

“By improving the shop display, we are aiming to strengthen consumer touch point which will contribute to increasing sales, especially for premium products. We have increased our marketing budget for this fiscal year by more than 1,000 per cent,” he said.

The company expects its consumer business to grow at an annual rate of 122 per cent during the 2017-2020 period.

Soejima said that the B2C segment is bigger, adding that B2B contributes only less than 30 per cent to the growth.

In the region, he said growth will come from B2C while globally, it will be from the automotive segment.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Pakistan are the key markets for the Japanese company.

The company opened a new TV manufacturing plant in Egypt recently. He said the LCD TVs produced will be distributed mainly in African countries.

The OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TV, which is going to be launched soon in the region, is targeted at high-end customers and cinema goers. The 65-inch OLED TV is priced at Dh20,000.

“Over the years Middle East region has witnessed a sustained growth across industries. Being a customer-centric brand, we are constantly adapting and evolving to market demands and this year we aim to increase our footprints across the region,” he said.

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