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Panasonic Reports It Has Completed Its Restructuring

Panasonic of North America completed a seven-month restructuring process of its major U.S. sales and marketing operations, placing new emphasis on flat-panel television and other digital products, the company announced.

“Panasonic has completed the first stage of our transformation into a more efficient organization with a much stronger brand, enabling us to take advantage of the market changes,” said Yoshi Yamada, Panasonic of North America’s CEO, in a statement addressing the move. “In fact, in the new fiscal period that started on April 1, sales of Panasonic plasma and LCD flat-panel TVs for the first time are primed to exceed sales of our direct-view CRT televisions in units, and will account for 85 percent of direct-view (non-projection) TV sales in dollars.”

Yamada continued that the U.S. market is expected to represent one-third of the estimated 4.8 million unit global demand for Panasonic’s plasma TV products by 2006.

Meanwhile, the company said it will more than double its investment to promote digital products like plasma TV, digital still cameras and DVD recorders, due to a “strong consumer trend toward products that enable a new digital lifestyle.”

The company said it is also improving the responsiveness of its customer call center in Chesapeake, Va. The company will give temporary assignments at the call center to nearly 700 Panasonic middle and senior managers to heighten their awareness of customer needs.

In parallel, it will implement specially designed programs to achieve what it is calling “extreme customer satisfaction.” These programs will begin with plasma TV installation and service requests with a 48-hour turnaround, which will be made available first to plasma-TV purchasers who are members of Club Panasonic or who purchase from

Panasonic is also pursuing efficiencies throughout its organization. Since August, the company said it has streamlined management throughout its sales structures, consolidated business functions and simplified business processes.

External service providers were brought in to handle logistics and warehousing, and IBM was signed on to execute services formerly handled by internal IT departments.

“As a lighter, quicker and more brand-focused organization, Panasonic is well positioned to make major gains in sales and brand value this year,” Yamada said. “Working closely with our channel partners, I am confident that we will achieve our goal to make Panasonic the best known and most consumer-centric digital electronics brand in this country.”