DUBAI // Kodak's sales across the MENA region this year have fallen for the first time. The company's operations in the UAE were the worst hit, with revenues down 25 per cent for the year so far, compared with 20 per cent for the region, said Komal Sharma, Kodak's international cluster managing director. Mr Sharma said part of the decline was from cutting prices to appeal to tighter budgets in the global downturn. Sales volumes across the region were down by about 5 per cent.
"The pricing in all the consumer electronics have been going down in this recession time, as every manufacturer tries to come up with better value," he said. Kodak has been struggling because of the downturn and the transition to digital photography. It has expanded its range of still and video cameras, and introduced kiosks for printing digital photos. Traditional film now represents between 7 and 8 per cent of Kodak's business, Mr Sharma said.
"While there is a fall in the revenue stream from film, we have been successfully executing a strategy to have growth in our other businesses," said John O'Grady, Kodak's managing director for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Kodak has forecast a global loss for this year of between US$200 million (Dh734.5m) and $400m. The Middle East has been a bright spot for Kodak, with double-digit sales growth each year for the previous four, Mr Sharma said.
Some markets within the region remain robust, he said. Qatar's revenues were up by between 7 and 8 per cent, and sales volumes rose by between 15 and 20 per cent compared with last year. Egypt is the most promising market. Sales volumes have grown by 6 per cent, while revenues have dropped just 6 per cent. The region has fared better than Europe, where sales dropped by about 30 per cent, Kodak said.
While it has been restructuring and cutting costs globally, it has not shed staff at its regional base in Dubai nor across the region. Kodak expects sales across MENA to rebound to double-digit growth next year, and is increasing budgets by 10 per cent and hiring staff. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org