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Fri, Jan 20, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Konica Minolta to scale back camera production

AFP , TOKYO

Japan's Konica Minolta, one of the world's leading photographic equipment makers, said yesterday it would stop making all cameras because the market had become too competitive.

The company plans to slash 3,700 jobs or about 11 percent of its global workforce by next year under a restructuring package that will also see part of its business making high-end digital cameras sold off to Sony.

Konica Minolta will also gradually stop making camera film by next year to focus on its more profitable optics and medical imaging activities.

"In today's era of digital cameras ... it became difficult to provide timely competitive products even with our top optical, mechanical and electronics technologies," the company said in a statement on its Web site.

"For color film and color paper, while considering our customer needs, we will step-by-step reduce product lineup and cease our film production and color paper by the end of fiscal year ending March 31, 2007," it added.

The announcement comes less than a week after Nikon announced plans to stop selling most of its film cameras to focus on hot-selling digital models.

Konica Minolta struggled to adapt to the rapidly changing shift to digital photography and away from traditional film.

It slumped into the red in the first half of the current financial year and forecast a large full-year loss due to falling sales of conventional photo film and intense competition in digital cameras.

The group, formed through the 2003 merger of Konika and Minolta, made a net loss of ¥3.48 billion (US$30.2 million) in the first half to September, reversing a net profit of ¥8.20 billion a year earlier.

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