Sharp MD turns focus on Middle East region

Incoming Sharp MD promises to revitalise company’s fortunes in the Middle East.

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By  Michael Thorne Published  September 4, 2006

Japanese consumer electronics vendor Sharp has appointed a new managing director, Tomio Isogai, to head its Middle East and Africa operations, charged with the goal of revitalising the company’s fortunes in both regions. Isogai boasts 25 years of experience working for Sharp in various positions and locations worldwide and has wasted no time in instigating a “major strategic realignment” designed to boost the company’s brand image in the Middle East. The Middle East currently accounts for less than 5% of Sharp’s global sales excluding Japan. Isogai’s plan calls for a doubling of sales volumes within three years, with a minimum 10% market share of each product category it boasts a presence in by 2010. If achieved, Sharp’s market value in the Middle East will expand from its existing base of US$200 million to over US$500 million in three years. The strategy also involves renewed focus on the African markets. “My foremost task will be to listen to our customers and to tailor our product mix to suit their needs,” Isogai said. Sharp Middle East FZE will undertake an aggressive business expansion strategy, which will see the company, along with its partners, attempt to boost its retail presence across the Middle East. “Whether it is geographic presence, shelf visibility or customer reach, the market will witness a much more forceful approach from us in the near future,” said Isogai. “We have been successful in the region but growth opportunities and market dynamics require a stronger thrust in this area. In the past, our approach to the market, reflected by our product offering, was not clearly presented to consumers as we attempted to release products aimed at the Japanese market in this region.” Isogai added that the company would follow a new approach to its distribution strategy, establishing new sourcing locations and offering greatly improved after-sales support. He indicated that a shake up in the company’s distribution network might be imminent, although he declined to reveal any specific details. “We may need to boost our presence in certain markets, whether that be through new partnerships or others that focus on specific product categories,” Isogai told ECN. “Having one distributor, particularly in larger markets such as Saudi Arabia and Iran for example, may not be enough. In such countries we may be able to pursue new commercial opportunities by networking with existing, as well as new, partners.” Sharp’s change in its approach to the market represents the growing importance of the region to consumer electronics vendors. Isogai said Sharp planned to increase its focus on product customisation for regional markets, particular in regards to LCD TVs, eco-friendly and business-to-business products. The company recently debuted the first of its eco-friendly products in the form of a flagship refrigerator range, which features the company’s proprietary Plasmacluster Ion Technology. The process is claimed to balance negative ions inside a refrigerator that lead to poor air quality and taint stored foodstuffs.

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