Senior management at Panasonic Australia are among the staff to have been made redundant after the Japanese company announced a restructure that takes away much of the local operation’s autonomy.
Sources close to the company told ARN that initial redundancies totalled just under 50 but claimed that number could yet increase significantly. It is the second major restructure for Panasonic Australia in four years. In 2002, the company consolidated several business units to form two distinct, market-led divisions – Panasonic Business Systems and Panasonic Consumer Electronics. Both business units handled multiple product lines from different Matsushita manufacturing units, with a coordinated approach to sales and marketing.
This initial restructure was overseen by Edward Hughes, who was managing director of Panasonic Australia until January. It was intended to make Panasonic Australia a more efficient and responsive company when dealing with its Australian customers.
Following Hughes' departure, Panasonic flew in Toshiro Kisaka from Japan to manage its Australian operations. The source said the new structure and associated redundancies meant local business units would report directly back to the parent company, Matsushita, in Japan.
It is a strategy aimed at making Panasonic Australia operate more like a distribution house for Matsushita’s factories, rather than an autonomous sales and marketing organisation that operates with the Australian market specifically in mind, according to the source.
The company had been performing well but the consumer division's results had been hampered by massive price and margin erosion as well as fluctuations in the exchange rate, the source claimed.
“Panasonic Australia’s business structure is currently undergoing a re-alignment in line with Matsushita’s global direction,” the company confirmed in a statement.
Officials refused to make comment further until the process was completed.