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Electronics

Nikon cuts jobs in Thailand and Laos with camera sales slumping

Factory positions pared 10% and more production adjustments expected amid pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has forced Nikon to delay the release of cameras. (Photo by Rintaro Shimomura)

TOKYO -- Nikon has cut 700 jobs in Southeast Asia as part of a move to restructure its digital camera business as executives warned of sustained losses during the coronavirus pandemic, the Japanese optical company said Thursday.

Staff reductions at production facilities of the imaging segment, which includes cameras, started last fall and continued in stages through the end of March. A portion of the cuts came in the form of early retirement.

Thailand was hit with the bulk of the downsizing, losing 500 positions. Another 200 cuts occurred in Laos. The numbers represented roughly 10% of the headcount at each location.

The pandemic has affected earnings at Nikon, one of the biggest manufacturers in the industry. The company announced Thursday net profit fell 88% to 7.6 billion yen ($70 million) for the year ended March 31.

The spread of the COVID-19 disease has delayed the launch of cameras, including the D6, a digital model with a huge fanbase among sports photographers, contributing to the loss of sales. A subsidiary also booked an impairment loss.

In light of the effect of the pandemic on the global economy moving forward, "we will optimize the scale of production," Hiroyuki Ikegami, senior vice president in charge of the imaging unit, said during Thursday's virtual news conference.

Nikon has not released guidance for the current fiscal year. The recovery of camera sales is currently lagging.

"We have to prepare for two straight annual losses" at the imaging business, said Chief Financial Officer Muneaki Tokunari.

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