After a whirlwind European romance, Panasonic is about to leave the continent it recently returned to after a seven-year absence, reports the Nikkei business daily. In contrast, Reuters is taking a more measured tone, citing two sources that say it may withdraw sometime in the next six months.
The plan was to sell 15 million handsets in 2015
The April launch of the company’s Eluga handset was meant to be the beginning of a new push toward internationalization for Panasonic. Earlier this year it had announced an ambitious plan to sell a combined 15 million units worldwide in 2015, but a strong yen coupled with financial uncertainty in Europe and low margins across the mobile industry have made it harder for the company to compete. Nikkei notes that Panasonic has already stopped production at its one remaining Japanese factory, shifting cellphone production to Malaysia.
In May, the company announced it would be halving the workforce at its Osaka head office as another means of cutting costs following its record loss last year. And with Panasonic facing the possibility of up to another ¥100 billion (about $1.25 billion) in expenses related to its ongoing restructuring efforts, new President Kazuhiro Tsuga could be looking at a similar 2012.
Update: Panasonic has confirmed Nikkei's report — it will stop selling phones in Europe by March 2013.