Toshiba pullout not likely to hit retailers here

Retailers of Toshiba products say that, given the relatively small quantity of Toshiba TV sets and appliances on the market, and their modest popularity, the move to cease sales will not affect business greatly.
Retailers of Toshiba products say that, given the relatively small quantity of Toshiba TV sets and appliances on the market, and their modest popularity, the move to cease sales will not affect business greatly.ST PHOTO: FABIAN KOH

RETAILERS of Toshiba television sets and other home appliances here look set to be little affected by the Japanese giant's move to cease sales as the brand is no longer a big player in Singapore.

A Toshiba spokesman told The Straits Times via e-mail last Friday: "It is true that we have made a decision to stop sales of home appliances and TV for Singapore's domestic market."

The company did not disclose further details.

Retailers of Toshiba products told The Straits Times that, given the relatively small quantity of Toshiba television sets and appliances on the market, and their modest popularity, the step will not affect business greatly.

At ALP Audio and Video Electromart in Toa Payoh, the manager on duty, who wanted to be known only as Miss Wong, said the outlet orders Toshiba products only when customers request them. "If we stop selling Toshiba products, it would not affect our business much, and is even negligible," she said.

A Toshiba washing machine was sitting outside the shop in its box waiting to be delivered. A staff member said it was the last Toshiba item in the store.

Mr Andrew Primalani, managing director of Parisilk Electronics and Computers, said Toshiba's regional factory in Thailand was affected by the floods in 2010.

"It took them about three years to recover. By then, they had been badly affected. Many people had moved on and found other brands," said Mr Primalani.

He estimates that Toshiba products make up only 10 per cent of his business, so the move to stop sales would not hurt much.

The boss of Bedok Centre Electrical, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ang, said his outlet, which has been running for 36 years, used to sell a lot of Toshiba products.

"The volume is too small now, as compared with 10 years ago, to affect us," he said, adding that he received a letter from Toshiba a few days back about the "exit".

While Mr Primalani received his notice last Wednesday, he said he already had an inkling two months back, as shipment of Toshiba products stopped and Parisilk was not given an estimated date of arrival upon inquiry with the company.

The Straits Times understands that superstore Harvey Norman is in talks with Toshiba, but it declined to give further details.

Toshiba's Singapore presence comprises Toshiba Singapore, Toshiba Asia Pacific and Toshiba TEC Singapore.

In early 2011, the company set up a Smart Community Engineering Centre here to explore R&D opportunities, resulting in breakthroughs in info-communications technology and water treatment.

Chinese evening newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported last Friday that 40 sales promoters had been retrenched by Toshiba here.

Mr Heng Chee How, executive secretary of United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries (UWEEI), said: "If workers are affected by Toshiba Singa- pore's plans to withdraw from the television and appliances market here, UWEEI and e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) stand ready to work with the management to ensure the interests of affected workers are taken care of."

fabkoh@sph.com.sg