Panasonic to axe 15,000 jobs worldwide

Japanese technology giants project huge losses as the global economic downturn takes hold

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By  Vineetha Menon Published  February 4, 2009

Panasonic has announced plans to cut 15,000 jobs worldwide and shut down 27 factories in response to the global financial crisis.

“The current financial crisis originated in the United States has spread across the world and the company’s outlook of the business environment has been extremely uncertain,” Panasonic said in a statement.

The Japanese electronics giant now expects a net loss of 380 billion yen ($4.2 billion) for the financial year ending March 31st, compared to the 30 billion yen profit it forecasted in November last year.

Panasonic’s third quarter results showed a net income loss of 63.1 billion yen compared to 115.2 billion yen profit for the same quarter last year.

“The company’s business conditions have worsened particularly since last October, due mainly to the rapid appreciation of the yen, sluggish consumer spending worldwide and ever-intensified price competition,” the company statement went on to add.

Seiji Koyanagi, MD of Panasonic Marketing Middle East (PMM), says that while the company in the Middle East is not immune from world events, markets in this region had contributed positively to meeting sales targets. PMM is under no illusion that 2009 will see further “challenging economic times,” but Panasonic’s Middle East boss believes that the markets in which his team operates are more stable than other international markets.

Panasonic director, Makoto Uenoyama, revealed the company will shut 27 plants by the end of March in an effort to weather the financial storm, with more closures expected next year.

Japanese technology companies are reeling from the effects of the economic downturn with Toshiba, Nintendo, Fujitsu, Sony and NEC Electronics all reporting poor earnings. NEC is shedding 20,000 of its staff, the largest single layoff plan for Japan so far, with Sony also reducing its workforce by 16,000.

One of the worst hit by the crisis however is Hitachi, with the company projecting a massive 700 billion yen ($7.8 billion) loss for the full financial year to March as demand for electronic goods slump worldwide.

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