Panasonic Security predicts growth for 2009 despite layoffs

Thursday, February 12, 2009
OSAKA--The Panasonic Corporation made news last week with the announcement, in a press conference held by company leadership, that it would be eliminating 15,000 positions worldwide, and closing 27 manufacturing sites and other locations. 
What does this mean for Panasonic's North American security-focused operations?
Jim Reilly, in the company's corporate communications office, said it was too early to get into specifics, but did provide some perspective from which it may be possible to draw conclusions. 
For example, he said Panasonic employs 307,000 people in total, and only 6,500 of those are the United States, "mostly engaged in sales, services, R&D, and product development. Not much in manufacturing." He emphasized that most of the location closings would be manufacturing-based, and "most of our manufacturing has transitioned from the United States to Mexico over the past few years."
Also, although Panasonic announced that 14 of the site closings would be "overseas," Reilly emphasized that there are 60 manufacturing sites, and more than 100,000 employees, in China, and China counts as overseas for the Japan-based Panasonic. 
Reilly also said the cost-cutting shouldn't affect the Panasonic acquisition of Sanyo, which is currently being reviewed by Japanese regulators. "Panasonic and Sanyo are moving ahead with the clearances for their business collaboration under Japan's law for market competition," Reilly said. "The company expects to be able to report on our progress in this area by the end of February, and we can't comment on the status of clearances around the world. So, basically the stage that we're at right now is obtaining approval for the regulatory go-ahead."
Getting specific to security, Reilly said "system sales," the category under which security falls for Panasonic, "is an important emphasis for the company, and the expectation is that it will grow."
In an email interview, J.M. Allain, president of Panasonic System Solutions, said, "the North American Security market should remain relatively strong throughout 2009. The majority of major projects slated for completion during the course of 2009 were put into motion prior to the economic conditions that prevailed in the fourth quarter of 2008. Although we do anticipate there will be budget reductions that will affect system expansion plans for existing installations, we remain cautiously optimistic that security will remain a priority across the private and public sectors."
As for Panasonic specifically, "We anticipate growth for Panasonic System Solutions," he wrote, "as a result of new product introductions we will be making throughout the course of the year that promise to deliver both enhanced value and performance - exactly what our customers' are demanding during these tough economic times as accountability for all expenditures will be measured more closely than ever."