Canon has released an official statement following news that it has delayed the construction of a new digital camera factory in Japan because of the economic slowdown.

Canon has released an official statement following news that it has delayed the construction of a new digital camera factory in Japan because of the economic slowdown.

Building work on the £80m factory in Nagasaki was due to begin in January and production expected to start next December.

However, Canon has delayed its construction as poor consumer demand is forecast to hit sales of digital cameras.

?This serious drop in demand is expected to continue for a period of time,? said the firm in a statement.

It added: ?With regard to future construction and operation for Nagasaki Canon, Canon will watch developments for the time being and announce a revised schedule once the timing has been determined.?

Canon announced plans to build the new factory during the summer. At the time it had predicted continued growth in demand for digital SLRs and compacts.

The full statement, issued by Canon UK, is set out below:

TOKYO, December 17, 2008?Canon Inc. announced today that it would delay the construction and start of operation of Nagasaki Canon Inc., the manufacturing base in Higashi Sonogi-gun, Nagasaki Prefecture, established in July this year.

Since 2000, demand for digital cameras has continued to increase rapidly. As demand is expected to continue growing in the future, Canon recognizes the need to expand its production capacity for both digital SLR and compact digital cameras.

Upon newly establishing Nagasaki Canon, original plans had called for starting construction in January 2009 and commencing operation in December 2009, carrying out production operations in collaboration with Oita Canon Inc., also located in Kyushu.

Recently, however, growth in demand for digital cameras has rapidly declined compared with original projections due to the global economic downturn triggered by the failure of major U.S. securities firms, which has necessitated a revision of earlier production plans.

This serious drop in demand is expected to continue for a period of time. These factors led to the company?s decision to delay the start of construction and operation of the new manufacturing site.

With regard to future construction and operation plans for Nagasaki Canon, Canon will watch market developments for the time being and announce a revised schedule once the timing has been determined.

This decision will have no impact on the hiring of individuals that have already received employment offers and are scheduled for hire from January 2009, including new graduates in April 2009. These individuals will undergo training at Oita Canon as originally planned and will be assigned.’