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Panasonic sets $9bn sales target at new China-focused segment

Electronics maker eyes innovation hub for connected appliances

Panasonic TVs on display at a store in Tokyo. The Japanese company sees great potential in China's home appliance market.
Panasonic TVs on display at a store in Tokyo. The Japanese company sees great potential in China's home appliance market.   ¬© Reuters

BEIJING -- Panasonic aims to boost revenue in its newly created China and Northeast Asia segment by around 40% from 2018 to 2021 to 1 trillion yen ($9.01 billion), strengthening its foothold in a future center for innovation.

Although demand is losing momentum in China, the country remains the world's largest market for home appliances. The Japanese company plans to bolster Chinese development of connected appliances and could even sell products developed in China back home in the future.

Tetsuro Homma, CEO of Panasonic's in-house China and Northeast Asia company, laid out plans for the business at a news conference here Monday. The operations that now make it up logged roughly flat sales of 700 billion yen in 2018. The goal is positive growth in 2019 and double-digit growth in 2020 and 2021.

China's appliance market "is difficult right now," Homma said. "Economic stimulus measures have been implemented in only a few cities, and consumers seem to be hesitating to make purchases."

But the executive still spoke of expanding research and development in the country. "It's a market that exists on a completely different scale, where we can sell the most expensive consumer goods in the world," he said.

Tetsuro Homma, CEO of Panasonic's in-house China and Northeast Asia company, explains plans for the business at a news conference. (Photo by Shunsuke Tabeta)

In connected appliances, "we've had a limited response in Japan, but in China, people tell us to bring them tomorrow," Homma said. As an example, he cited a toilet capable of collecting health-related data. He outlined plans to pursue more R&D projects in China, with a goal of eventually exporting resulting products to Japan.

Homma expressed little concern over the Sino-American trade war, which has escalated with U.S. President Donald Trump's latest tariff hike threat.

"The China and Northeast Asia company has almost no exports to the U.S., so we won't be affected," Homma said.

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