x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Regional picture becomes much clearer for Sharp

The new regional chairman for the technology company Sharp discusses how it is expanding operations here, with new offices, more staff and an expanded product portfolio.

Sharp, the manufacturer known for making the world's largest LED backlit TV, is expanding its operations in the Middle East and Africa (Mea).

The company has doubled its employee base in the Mea region over the past 18 months to just past the 100 mark.

As it seeks to expand its range of products in the region with more big-screen TVs, home appliances and other offerings, Sharp is aiming to increase its regional workforce by another 10 per cent and launch at least two more offices in Africa.

"A unique region, the Middle East has a very youthful population which is interested in consumer goods and will provide a solid basis for future growth in the region," said Hiroshi Sasaoka, who was appointed chairman of Sharp for the Mea region and Commonwealth of Independent States this month.

"And, with the Middle East and Africa region projected to be home to 30 per cent of the world's population by 2020, there's scope for significant demand for world-class consumer electronics in this scenario." Previously, Sharp's operation in the region was limited to one of more than two dozen subsidiaries within the technology company, which turns 100 next year. But along with Mr Sasaoka's appointment this month, the company announced it was investing an undisclosed amount to boost staff, distributor support and expand its product range with a new regional structure that joins six other regions under the company's global umbrella.

"This means we are supporting the markets with increased resources and more products, demonstrating our dedication to the countries we operate in," said Mr Sasaoka. The company said it had sustained double-digit growth in the region over the past two years, helped in part by new offices that have opened up in South Africa, Iran and Egypt.

The office in Egypt will be expanding shortly, Mr Sasaoka said, while a new presence will be established to cater to other parts of North Africa as well as Subsaharan Africa.

Sharp is not the only consumer electronics maker that is pushing harder into the region. Companies such as Microsoft and Lenovo have all recently boosted investments as more tech-savvy shoppers continue to buy gadgets. However, other manufacturers have been slower to make major moves. HTC, which is headquartered in Taiwan but had the fastest-selling smartphones in the US during the third quarter, launched its first local marketing campaign only this year.

And Apple, which produces popular products such as the iPad tablet and iPhone smartphone, just opened its first online portal to sell directly to consumers earlier this year.

Mr Sasaoka predicts steady double-digit growth for Sharp in the UAE and broader region.

"Customers are looking to upgrade their lifestyle," he said.



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