Nikon has just published its figures for the first half of the 2019 financial year and it’s looking bleak for the Japanese manufacturer.
The company as a whole has reported year-on-year figures that don’t make for pleasant reading for shareholders: revenue is down 13.3% and operating profit has fallen by 42.9%. Profit before income taxes is down by 40.6%.
Nikon is a huge company and readers will be most interested in the performance of its Imaging Products Business. Although there were some reasons to be optimistic — sales of high-end cameras has increased — year-on-year revenue fell by 21.1% with profits down by 84.7%. As detailed in the report, “Unit sales of full-frame cameras increased mainly in Europe and US” thanks to mirrorless cameras, but a collapse in sales in Asia of DSLRs has had a big impact on revenue and profits.
The company has revised down its forecasts for imaging for the year ending March 31, 2020, acknowledging that it overestimated both the size and its share of the market, and that the “ Shift toward ML cameras and the product mix change in the full-frame category have not been accelerated as expected.” The report doesn’t seem to pull any punches, saying that sales plan for mirrorless cameras was “overestimated,” and the company more broadly suffered from “slow execution on drawn out decision making.”
Also included are plans on how to address the decline. Nikon will “Intensify focus on professional and hobbyist segment” as well as expanding the lens lineup, but perhaps the most significant proposed changes are a restructuring of the Imagine Business Unit and a plan to “Drastically revise the sales strategy.” These are influential as it could see a change in how the slow-moving, cautious, and traditional company approaches the industry, particularly in how it markets its products.
Within all of these figures, it becomes trickier to understand how the NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct has come to market. As a halo product, it’s impressive (and in demand, apparently!), but until Nikon broadens its lens lineup for its mirrorless cameras, it seems unlikely to create the sense of prestige around the brand that Nikon is seeking. It seems a bit pointless to demonstrate the ability to create some of the best glass in the world when there’s a significant lack of fast lenses available for professionals.
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