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Preview Edition - IFA International

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Exclusive Interview

Exclusive Interview Looking Up Panasonic’s consolidated group sales for the first quarter increased by 1% to 1,824.5 billion yen compared with 1,814.5 billion yen for the first quarter of the year ended March 31, 2013 (fiscal 2013). This result was due mainly to positive impact of yen depreciation, and stable sales in housing and automotive businesses securing market recovery, despite decreased sales in digital consumer related products due to weak demand and the company’s strategy focusing on profitability rather than on sales volume. Overseas sales increased by 8% to 959.6 billion yen from 892.4 billion yen a year ago. Operating profit increased to 64.2 billion yen from 38.6 billion yen a year ago, due mainly to fixed cost reduction including decrease in bonuses and positive impact of yen depreciation. Panasonic meanwhile launched its three-year midterm management plan “Cross-Value Innovation 2015 (CV2015),” the period from fiscal 2014 to fiscal 2016. The company has been promoting four initiatives in a new group formation through its business division system to revitalize each business: ‘eliminating unprofitable business,’ ‘expanding business and improving efficiency by shifting from in-house approach,’ ‘improving its financial position,’ and ‘enhancing its growth strategy from customer’s viewpoint.’ In The Spirit of Matsushita Panasonic Europe’s CEO sets the stage for continued strong growth in 2014 Laurent Abadie, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Panasonic Europe Ltd., is the “European voice” at Panasonic HQ in Osaka – an essential – even critical – link in the company’s understanding of western trends and needs, as it aims to further expand beyond the shores of Japan. We asked Mr Abadie to give us his viewpoint of coming trends. [ Interview by Richard Barnes ] One of the main topics last year centred around connected devices that could communicate and share information with each other. The connected devices subject is far from over and wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, DLNA or near field communication (NFC) have a key role to play in helping devices ‘talk’ to each other. “Our business attitude has changed to allow the company to grow in new sectors through regional partnerships, co-operations and acquisitions.” For example, our new LUMIX cameras can be connected to a Wi-Fi network or our new SC-NA30, SC-NA10 and SC- NT10 wireless speakers can be paired with the content serving device with just one touch. The next big thing in TV and other areas is ‘personalisation’, enabling people to create their very own product experience. We see personalisation as a trend for example in our Viera “My Homescreen” offering. In the TV area, picture quality is also still high on our agenda and matters a great deal to us. In the Home Appliances sector, besides criteria such as sustainability and energy efficiency, ‘smart appliances’ are becoming more and more of an apparent trend. Appliances are becoming more intelligent and have features that save not only resources but also the user’s time and make the experience simple and enjoyable - such as the steam function in our irons, our washers and dryers etc. How is Panasonic changing its overall approach to the market on the international scene, and how does this relate to the company’s base in Japan? Just over a year ago, Kazuhiro Tsuga was appointed the new President of the company and with him came a change in the structure of our organisation and our approach to the international market. The business structure was simplified into four companies (Appliances Company, Eco Solutions Company, AVC Networks Company, Automotive & Industrial Systems Company) each with global responsibility for R&D, products and sales. This enables these four companies to be more agile and respond to the needs of a local market much quicker. Our business attitude has changed to allow the company to grow in new sectors through regional partnerships, co-operations and acquisitions. One example of how we plan to grow through external knowledge is the long-term strategic alliance we have just formed with Gorenje where joint R&D, sharing of selected manufacturing platforms, European sales network, marketing and distribution know-how will improve our competitiveness for washing machines and refrigerators and will help to establish our presence of built-in ovens in Europe. We have also recently acquired Cameramanager. com, a cloud-based video surveillance company to enhance our security solutions business. These three examples are great proof points of how the organisation has been adapting to embrace alternative company cultures, deal with new service requests and appreciate different cultural understandings. What does your day-to-day work involve? How do you work with HQ in Osaka? As part of my job, I have regular meetings with the Laurent Abadie Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Panasonic Europe Ltd. President and our major business leaders in Japan – at least once a month in Osaka. This gives me a chance to relay any requests that I’ve gathered during my close collaboration with both product business units or our European National Sales Companies back to headquarters. My teams and I are regularly involved in product planning meetings to not only give a European perspective but also to feedback any EU demands which should be taken into account for a European market when developing a particular product. We also help to collect European requirements by inviting our Japanese engineers over to Europe to get direct views and opinions from customers, suppliers, editors or other stakeholders which is then used to further strengthen an existing product or implement into a new product coming to the market. www.ifa-international.org IFA International • Monday 2 nd September 2013 31

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