Olympusu2019s camera business must generate u2018stable profitsu2019 to survive, warns the companyu2019s president Hiroyuki Sasa in the wake of continued annual losses.
In an internal Q&A to accompany the Olympus 2014 Annual Report, Sasa said he plans to increasingly rely on developing new ‘business-to-business’ markets, to sustain the imaging business over the long term.
The Olympus imaging division recorded a 9.2 billion yen (£53m) operating loss for the year to 31 March 2014, though this was a substantial improvement on the 23.1 billion yen loss a year earlier.
Sasa stressed the importance of Olympus imaging technology to the firm’s medical and scientific divisions.
He added: ‘However, I also realise that, if we are going to continue this [imaging] business, we will have to make sure it can generate stable profits.’
Sasa said that it ‘cannot be allowed to continue recording losses’.
‘We must restructure this business to make sure it can generate stable profits over the medium to long term.
‘We will accomplish this by cutting costs and shifting our product portfolio toward high-margin mirrorless cameras.’
In the report, published today, Sasa adds: ‘On a monetary basis, the mirrorless camera market is expanding steadily, and we can at least expect this market to continue growing over the next several years.
‘Nonetheless, the mirrorless camera market does present risks when looked at from a long-term perspective.
‘For this reason, we plan to gradually transition the Imaging Business toward the growing business to business market.’
Sasa explained that Olympus is ‘already seeing potential customers to be served with these [imaging] technologies in its Medical Business and Scientific Solutions business’.
Reflecting on the years since Olympus was enveloped by a massive financial scandal in 2011, Sasa admitted that the company had been in a ‘state of crisis’, but says it has since worked to ‘escape a very negative situation’ which included lack of profitability.
He said the firm’s medium-term business vision is almost complete, and noted that the speed of the reforms had ‘exceeded expectations’.
Olympus expects its imaging business to break even for the year to 31 March 2015, if a planned 3.5 billion yen investment in business-to-business activities is excluded from the figures.
Yesterday, Olympus launched the Pen E-PL7 (pictured), a new mirrorless camera aimed at the ‘selfie’ generation.