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MATSUSHITA Electric Industrial Co Ltd, which is unifying its Panasonic and National brands globally as a growth strategy, is confident that it will be effective in gaining a larger market share worldwide.

Based on quality products and a solid Panasonic brand, the electronics and IT manufacturer is also upbeat about reinforcing its presence globally as well as enhancing its business operations.

The unification of the brand is expected to be completed by the end of March. As part of the exercise, Matsushita Electric has also launched a global slogan "“ "Panasonic Ideas For Life".

The new slogan represents the commitment of all Matsushita employees around the world, in providing value-added products and services which will enrich the lives of the people at large.

Its executive vice-president Datuk Yukio Shohtoku said in some countries outside Japan, particularly in the Asian region, Matsushita's products are sold under the Panasonic and National brands.

"We want to unify our brands so that our products will be able to compete with the Korean and that of other Japanese products. In the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Russia, the company's products have been sold under a single brand name, Panasonic, since the 1980s. Therefore, to further enhance our business globally and gain a larger market share, we want to adopt one single brand name,'' he said.

Korean electronic giants like Samsung and LG, he added, had been successful under the one-brand concept and their products had managed to penetrate and been accepted well in the international markets.

Based on this, the company hopes to do the same if not better, according to Shohtoku.

As part of Matsushita's strategy to further spearhead its business globally, the company will be rolling out its five flagship value-added products, namely state-of-the-art refrigerator, air-conditioner, washing machine equipped with drying function, microwave oven and high-tech vacuum cleaner. These five products are expected to be in the Malaysian market next month.

Shohtoku pointed out that the flagship products would be different from their predecessors in terms of functionality, shape and colour.

For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2003, Matsushita Electric registered a global net sales of 7.4 trillion Yen (US$62bil), out of which overseas sales contributed 3.9 trillion Yen. The bulk of the sales were from the Asian region. The video and audio equipment and the information and communications divisions accounted for 59% of the consolidated sales.

Matsushita Electric expects Asia, particularly South-East Asia and Oceania, to remain as its major markets and China as its potential future market.

Matsushita Electric Asia Pte Ltd managing director Tomio Kawabe said Southeast Asia and Oceania accounted for 20% of the group's total overseas sales for the fiscal year ended March 31.

"We expect the contribution (total net sales) from South-East Asia and Oceania to be almost the same for the current financial year ending March 31, 2004. Matsushita Electric has 76 companies for research and development (R&D), manufacturing and sales in these markets, out-numbering all other regions," he said.

Kawabe said that despite the rapid growth of China, South-East Asia and Oceania remained highly competitive, thanks to their stable governments and industrial strategies for foreign companies and incentives.

Australia and Singapore are the leading markets for Matsushita in South-East Asia and Oceania, accounting for between 50% and 60% of total sales.

Kawabe added that Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia were strong potential markets. Malaysia currently accounts for 5% of Matsushita's sales in these markets.

For fiscal 2004, Matsushita Electric is targeting more than 60% of its operating profits to come from overseas business from 55% presently, he said. At the same time, Shohtoku said, the company hoped to achieve sales worth 1 trillion Yen in China in 2005.

The company is one of the global market leaders in digital versatile disc (DVD) recorders, commanding close to 50% market share. DVD recorders are manufactured at its Kadoma plant in Osaka. The plant, which was established in the 80s, produces 150,000 units per month.

On the Malaysian front, the company will be incorporating a new oxygen generating technology at Matsushita's air-cond factories this month. Matsushita has five air-cond factories in Shah Alam, two in Petaling Jaya, and one sales office, also in PJ.

Matsushita Home Appliances Company vice-president Junji Esaka said the move was part of the company's initiative to introduce the flagship products in the region in view of the unification exercise.

The move by the company will also further enhance its air-cond business in Malaysia. Matsushita Home Appliances is a division of Matsushita Electric.

"The Panasonic air-cond brand in Malaysia is well known and we have a good market share as well. We are not phasing out the existing conventional air-conds but incorporating them with the new technology. Therefore, the investment for the switching of the technology is not much. It provides sufficient clean room oxygen of about 21%,'' he said after a factory tour by journalists.

In Malaysia, Esaka said, the annual production of air-conds was 1.5 million units in 2002.

>From The Star Online

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