By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Group, the nation’s leading conglomerate, is changing the way it conducts business in Japan to substantially boost performance.
The Seoul-based group said Sunday that its subsidiaries in Japan will now operate independently from each other. Previously all 18 Samsung affiliates existed under the same umbrella of Samsung Japan.
Japan has been one of the few countries where Samsung has failed to stand out as consumers there respond bitterly to Korean electronics companies. There is strong competition with Japanese firms like Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic and Sanyo.
Plus, Japan’s major distribution channels are suspected of being reluctant to retail items manufactured by Samsung Electronics, the world’s top producer of flat-panel displays and memory chips.
The head of Samsung Electronics Consumer Electronics Division Yoon Boo-keun recently told The Korea Times that Japan is a very difficult market to penetrate and Samsung Electronics will review how to actively increase the sale of its televisions from thorough market reviews.
``Samsung will disband the so-called Samsung Japan. As the decision goes into effect, affiliates of Samsung Group will have gain independency from May,’’ a Samsung official said.
``Samsung’s brand image has improved of late compared to past decades. Things will further improve if we respond much faster to customer needs and that’s why we have decided to streamline our business structure in Japan.’’
After Samsung introduced a new management style under the initiative of its head Lee Kun-hee, the group set up integrated head offices in five countries including Samsung Japan in 1994.
The rationale: the new structure was back then hoped to more efficiently coordinate business strategies between Samsung group affiliates in specific countries.
The latest decision also calls for Samsung Electronics to separate into two divisions _ finished-goods and parts-making. ``This is a fine-tuned strategy, which will further bolster our business presence in Japan,’’ the official said.
Samsung is more optimistic as major Japanese electronics companies continue to struggle due to the strengthening yen and late responses to the new wave in hardware-driven technologies.
``Samsung is ideally-positioned for on-time product release with competitive prices. Our new approach in Japan will start smoothly,’’ said an unnamed executive from Samsung Electronics by telephone.
In a separate press release, Samsung said its ``Smart TV D8000 Series’’ was awarded the golden prize at the ``Good Design Award 2011.’’
Nine PCs, seven home appliances, four TVs, two mobile phones, two digital cameras and two printers were awarded, which reflects Samsung’s greater brand recognition.
As for China, Samsung plans to maintain its headquarters there. With 102,000 employees, 36 manufacturing affiliates, 32 sales offices and seven research centers ``Samsung China’’ was established in January 1995.
``Samsung still lacks a strong brand reputation in China. It’s too early to break up the headquarters in China. We will see later on in the future. But we don’t have any imminent plans,’’ the Samsung Electronics executive said.