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Japan-Update

Panasonic to double Chinese appliance sales by fiscal 2020

Broadening customer base key to the goal for fiscal 2020

Panasonic features a few hundred items at the Appliance & Electronics World Expo in Shanghai, including white goods and a smart toilet seat.

SHANGHAI -- Panasonic will work toward increasing its sales of consumer electronics in China by 100% to around 20 billion yuan ($3.15 billion) in fiscal 2020 by reaching more of the middle class with an improved lineup of home equipment such as high-tech toilet seats and beauty appliances.

Wu Liang, managing director of Panasonic Appliances (China), revealed the goal Thursday at the Appliance & Electronics World Expo here. Sales for the current year ending in March are expected to rise 17% to around 10.5 billion yuan. The plan is to capture brisk demand for home-related spending among China's middle class by broadening the main target customers from families earning 320,000 yuan or more to those with an annual income of 250,000 yuan or higher.

Panasonic's exhibitions at this year's expo cover a few hundred items including white goods, cooking appliances and beauty equipment. A warm-water bidet toilet seat that analyzes urine and measures a person's weight and body fat percentage drew a crowd. The internet-enabled toilet seat even lets the user manage the data on a smartphone or send the information to a health care provider.

China's government is pushing to improve public restrooms nationwide in a so-called toilet revolution. Wu cites strong demand for advanced toilet seats among local governments and others.

Other exhibitors at the Shanghai show include Haier Group, which is showcasing its connected electronics such as a refrigerator featuring a liquid crystal display that helps users manage perishables with an automatic online purchasing function.

Midea Group, which acquired German robotics company Kuka last year, brought medical equipment incorporating industrial robots. Sony features its 4K ultrahigh-definition television, among other items.

The annual expo is the largest such event in Asia. The four-day event through Sunday likely will draw about 200,000 visitors.

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