April 19, 2014 5:43 am JST

Panasonic to give Southeast Asia more latitude in electronics

OSAKA -- Panasonic has firmed up plans for assigning headquarters functions to Southeast Asia as early as this summer for consumer electronics operations there.

     Planning and development of products will be localized, shifting decision-making authority from Japan. By enhancing development to better suit local tastes and needs, Panasonic will target consumer electronics sales of around 2 trillion yen ($19.3 billion) in the year ending March 2019.

     All white goods operations are now overseen by an in-house appliances company. Domestic sales are believed to have amounted to some 550 billion yen, compared with an estimated 1.17 trillion yen in overall sales for the year ended March 31. Sales in Asia outside Japan are seen contributing 400 billion yen. With televisions and other products newly included in the appliances company's earnings results from this month, consumer electronics sales will likely reach 1.8 trillion yen.

     The Asian headquarters will oversee local product planning, sales, marketing and production outsourcing. Panasonic is exploring Malaysia or Vietnam as the host country. By localizing offerings, Panasonic aims to catch up to Samsung Electronics, Haier and other rivals in Asia.

     Panasonic will also ramp up development in Europe via an existing alliance with Gorenje Group, a Slovenian consumer electronics company in which it obtained a 13% stake last summer. The duo will focus on such products as refrigerators, washing machines and cooking appliances. Panasonic will supply energy-saving technology, along with temperature control technology used to keep vegetables fresh. It will work with Gorenje engineers to design offerings suited to the local market.

     Gorenje will handle production at facilities in Serbia. Through the partnership, Panasonic hopes to double European sales of white goods from 50 billion yen a year.