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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ACI eyes assembling Panasonic products

The Daily Star

ACI Limited plans to set up a plant in Bangladesh to assemble Panasonic-branded products after embarking on electronics business with distributorship of the Japanese company's audiovisual items.

"After signing a sole distributorship agreement with Panasonic in Singapore recently we have started retailing Panasonic-branded audiovisual products in Dhaka and Chittagong areas," Muallem A Choudhury, chief financial officer of ACI, told The Daily Star.

"We have a dormant dream of setting up an assembling plant in Bangladesh, where completely knocked down (CKD) items will be put together for a finished Panasonic branded item," Choudhury said.

Setting-up of the assembling plant depends, however, on the success of retailing of Panasonic products, to some extent, said the company's other senior officials.

Panasonic has approved an assembling plant in Vietnam after observing its product-retailing for seven years.

ACI has projected to sell 5,600 pieces of Panasonic audiovisual products worth Tk 128 million in the first year, which will be 2.5 percent value share of the audiovisual product market.

The product profile comprises colour television, flat panel television (LCD and Plasma), DVD home theatre, DVD player, mini hi-fi system, digital still camera and video camera.

Earlier, Panasonic products were marketed by Nicole, now defunct.

"We are reintroducing Panasonic items in a big way," Choudhury said, pointing to the previous distributors' performances here, which he deems unsatisfactory because Panasonic's market share is less than 1 percent in Bangladesh.

ACI promotional drives for Panasonic items will be funded by the Japanese company.

Among the product profile, liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma-televisions are premium products that targeted high-end customers, corporate houses and hotels and motels.

ACI Consumer Brands, a strategic business unit of ACI, has already sold four 50? plasma televisions each at Tk 3.82 lakh, eight 42? plasma televisions each at Tk 2.30 lakh and eight 42? LCD televisions each at Tk 1.51 lakh.

Panasonic is superior in manufacturing television with hi-definition plasma and LCD.

"Our target is not only selling the premium products, but also regular or common items for middle income group to upper level," Choudhury said.

Panasonic's regular colour television, the price of which is lower than Sony brand but higher than Chinese and other brands, is a quality product, he said.

Colour television is the biggest segment of the Tk 1,330 crore electronics market, with 15 percent annual growth, according to industry sources.

Around 400,000 television sets worth Tk 440 crore were sold last year.

Among the television brands, Chinese Konka is the top player with 21 percent market share, followed by TCL with 18 percent, Singer with 12 percent, LG with 11.25 percent and Samsung with 10 percent.

ACI will also introduce Panasonic refrigerators in the next phase to capture a position in the refrigerator market, the second biggest segment of the electronics market.

"Our purpose is not to compete with Chinese items, rather our main objective is to provide quality products to customers," the ACI official said.

ACI, also involved in pharmaceuticals, agro-business and consumer items, made a net profit of Tk 107.56 crore last year.



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