‘Rapid Market Shrink’

Olympus, which began peddling cameras with Zuiko lenses in 1936, is selling its sagging imaging business, after logging operating losses for the past three fiscal years, it said Wednesday. The company signed a memo of understanding with Japan Industrial Partners to carve out its imaging business to a new company; it will then transfer its shares to a fund handled by JIP. Sony made a similar deal with JIP in 2014 when it sold the Vaio PC business (see 1402070080).

Olympus cited the “rapid market shrink” brought about increasingly advanced camera features in smartphones that largely supplanted mainstream digital camera sales. The company attempted to cope with the “extremely severe digital camera market,” it said, improving the cost structure by restructuring manufacturing and focusing on high-value-added Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lenses. Several of its M. Zuiko Micro Four Thirds lenses were leaders in their categories in a Digital Photography Review buyers guide in July.

With support from JIP, a new company, as the successor of OM-D and Zuiko brands, will use technology and product development capabilities developed by Olympus to “realize continuous growth of the business by bringing better products and services” to market, said the companies. The new company will maintain the R&D resources of the Olympus imaging business and restructured manufacturing operations to offer “high-quality, highly reliable products,” they said. It will continue to support products in the market that have been distributed by Olympus. A definitive agreement is scheduled for signing by Sept. 30, with closing expected by Dec. 31.

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In April, Olympus held a series of webinars led by professional photographers to spur interest in cameras as consumers sheltered in place during the coronavirus pandemic (see Ref:2004130029]). The company’s HomeWithOlympus content series included a podcast with Olympus photographers sharing tips and techniques. Last month, the venerable imaging company cut prices on camera bodies and lenses, offering discounts of $200 to $600.



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