Like all Japanese electronics manufacturers, Panasonic suffered a dramatic collapse in sales of what were once its most profitable products - TVs, VHS and DVD players - as a result of brutal competition in the 2000s from more Samsung and other foreign competitors. That added new urgency to a steady restructuring that had already been going on for several years. In fact, until a change of name in 2008, Panasonic was just one of several brands controlled by what was then Matsushita Electric Industrial, alongside National, JVC and Technics. Together these made Matsushita the world's biggest consumer electronics company for much of the 1990s and early 2000s, ahead even of local rival Sony. However, the marketplace began to change dramatically mid-2000s, forcing MEI to alter its strategy. In 2008, the group adopted a new name of Panasonic Corporation, and began phasing out its smaller brands. (Technics is one of the few survivors from that purge). The group still makes consumer electronics and household appliances - including Viera flat-screen TVs and Lumix digital cameras - but it sees a brighter future in areas such as automotive batteries and other components (clients include Toyota and Tesla), domestic energy systems and industrial or commercial technology solutions. Kazuhiro Tsuga is CEO. After struggled for years to adapt to the changing environment, Panasonic reported its first real increase in sales and profits for seven years in fiscal 2017. Revenues for the year to Mar 2018 were approx $72.0bn. Japan accounted for almost half of that total, and Asia as a whole for 73%. Consumer electronics and household appliances now account for less than a third of sales; audiovisual products for less than 10%. The company was founded in 1918 by Konosuke Matsushita to make electric plugs and later battery-powered bicycle lamps, electric irons and other small appliances. By the mid-1960s it was Japan's largest manufacturer of domestic appliances. One of its most notable successes on the global stage was its development of the VHS home video format in the 1970s; followed by DVD technology in the 1990s. However a move to consolidate that position in Western markets with the purchase of the MCA Universal entertainment group proved disastrous.
Capsule checked 2nd November 2018
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