Hisense Outlines Plans For Sharp TV Brand

Update! Company expanding staff in preparation for Jan. 6 takeover of brand in Americas
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Hisense USA is expanding its sales, marketing, service, and sales operations as it prepares for the Jan. 6 takeover of Sharp’s North and South American TV business, said Hisense USA sales VP Peter Erdman.

Sharp’s sales and marketing functions will move from Sharp’s New Jersey offices to Hisense’s Suwanee, Ga., offices, he said. The company is also opening sales offices in Bentonville, Ark., and in Minneapolis to serve Walmart and Best Buy.

Earlier this month, China-based Hisense announced it was buying the assets of Sharp's TV factory in Mexico for $23.7 million to build its presence in the Americas, where both it and financially ailing Sharp have small market shares. Hisense also obtained the rights to use the Sharp brand name on TVs in the Americas.

In outlined plans for the Sharp brand, Erdman also said a single sales and marketing team will sell both brands, though the company will treat each brand differently because each brand has “a different essence.”

“We will be thoughtful in how we do this,” he continued. Hisense intends to “respect’s Sharp’s distribution,” he added.

It’s still to be determined whether Hisense will require separate dealer agreements for each brand and whether dealers will be required to take on both brands. Whatever the final details, Sharp will retain its premium market position, Erdman said.

With the acquisition of the Sharp factory and the licensing deal, “we will be able to supply more products in North America” through the Hisense and Sharp brands, Erdman said.

Erdman also disclosed that the first Hisense-developed Sharp-brand products will appear at January’s CES, which opens Jan. 6, though Sharp’s New Jersey operation will continue to sell through its existing TVs through the first quarter.

With its ample R&D budget, Hisense wants to enhance Sharp’s brand image in TVs, Erdman also noted, saying that he is “90 percent sure” Hisense’s new ULED (Ultra LED) technology will appear in select Sharp products.

Product differentiation: The Hisense brand “might share some space” with Sharp in premium products, he said, but the Hisense brand will account for most of the company’s efforts in the low end of the market. Both brands will play in the “middle space,” with products differentiated by such factors as screen size and cosmetics, he said.

In an update regarding Sharp's licensing of the Elite brand from Pioneer for high-end TVs,a Pioneer spokesman said the Elite licensing deal has already expired.

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