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Pioneer Could Re-Purpose Kuro Brand

3/09/2009 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Pioneer Electronics USA acknowledged the difficulty of leaving the plasma TV market and said it is looking at offering the Kuro brand in other product areas.

Andy Parsons, advanced product development senior VP, who has also assumed the role of corporate communications senior VP, said, “We put a lot of financial and emotional energy in the Kuro TV line, and the loss of that has hit us pretty hard. It was a significant force in our business.”

Plasma displays accounted for a quarter of corporate Pioneer’s operating revenue in 2008, according to the company’s annual report.

Parsons explained that the market was simply no longer sustainable. “We couldn’t find a point in the future where it would be a viable business that was sustainable economically.” It was difficult to sell a high-end TV in the midst of aggressive price erosion, and then the economy “hit us very hard, frankly,”

It is possible that the Kuro brand could appear on other products in the future. “We’re still looking at how to leverage the Kuro brand. For us, we don’t want to lightly throw that brand around” unless a product reflects “what the whole Kuro philosophy was about,” he said.

Pioneer would not reveal the total number of U.S. layoffs resulting from its global 10,000 staff reduction, nor specific executive changes. Parsons did note that Kenji Murai, executive VP of the mobile group, will assume the duties of Ed Sachs, who announced his resignation during International CES is departing as president of the mobile business group.

Pioneer claimed it is not altering its distribution and will continue to service TVs for as long as each state requires if not longer. In California, suppliers are required to supply parts for seven years, he said.

It has not been concluded if Pioneer will advertise TVs as it sells through remaining inventory until its March 2010 cutoff. It expects to continue supplying plasma displays through “a good portion of 2009.”

Of Pioneer’s A/V specialists who are losing a key plasma brand, Parsons said, “We are very, very grateful for their support. They have been a huge portion of our reputation building effort over the past ten years. We will continue to provide them with high-end DVD players, Blu-ray players, home audio and speakers.”

Parsons said more resources will now be placed in car electronics but offered no specifics.

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