Hitachi high-tails out of CE market

Hitachi’s withdrawal from Australia's consumer electronics division part of a global sales strategy

Hitachi Australia Pty Ltd will withdraw from the Australian consumer electronics market as part of a global refocusing of its consumer electronics sales strategy.

Bing Lee merchandising manager of AV and computers, Phil Moujaes, was informed of the decision to close Hitachi's local consumer electronics operations by letter. The retailer has been sourcing a range of Hitachi-branded products including LCD screens, plasmas and GPS units, directly from the local subsidiary.

"We understand that it's part of a global decision by Hitachi to exit consumer electronics," he said.

According to Moujaes, Hitachi will start to wind down local operations at the end of February. The vendor has assured retailers they will be able to continue sourcing spare parts and services.

Moujaes said Hitachi products had been popular with its customers and its pricing was in-line with rival vendors.

"We have not seen any decline in their sales - the products have been selling quite well and have been competitive to the other [vendors]," he said.

"We are disappointed about the decision -Hitachi is a strong, Japanese brand, and it's had strong acceptance in the market. It's disappointing to see less brands available to us."

Business development manager for visual products at Harvey Norman, Gary Brown, agreed the move was not the result of poor sales.

"I wouldn't think they had suffered a decline in sales, their main business is flat panels which is quite a buoyant market," he said.

"If you read the press that is going around it's all to do with erosion of prices. But Hitachi is a pretty financially backed company and they made a good product."

Hitachi has several business divisions in Australia involving industrial products, consumer and manufacturer electronics, energy generation and air conditioning systems, automotive components, and computer systems.

According to various news reports, the decision to exit the CE market is part of a worldwide sales strategy. Hitachi communications executive for consumer products, Celine Herit, confirmed the vendor will be withdrawing from consumer electronics sales in Australia, but declined to comment further pending an official press statement on Tuesday January 22.

- Nadia Cameron contributed to this report.

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