present financial position
most important player in the world of photography Nikon Corporation
is confronted with serious problems. Earlier this century Nikon went
into the red. With the introduction of an interesting series of digital
cameras and lenses Nikon was saved by the bell. Luckily Nikon became
a ‘paying concern’. But not for long as competitors were
not sitting still and consumers preferences were unpredictable. Mobile
phones and (later) tablets were fitted with cameras and lenses equaling
many compact digital cameras in performance. In 2004 a Consumer Relation
Management was unrolled to follow market trends. Unfortunately the latter
effort was not yielding as expected.
Note: Nikon's financial year is running from April 1 - March 31.
Would it be of help to announce new products when they are ready for shipment? Many newly announced/introduced products are not available for many months! Firmware upgrades before an item is available is no recommendation.
In its presentation of the financial data of the year ending by March 31, 2019 Nikon stated that "camera market continues to shrink" and "sales volume reduction is expected in each category". Unfortunately Nikon had to repeat this sad statement again in August 2019 and February 2020. The reports presented in the latter month revenue (YoY) went down by 15.5 % and operating profit by 59 %. The compact camera market and the D-SLR camera market are forecast to shrink. The ML cameras were received well by the public but for how long?
Nikon has 'misread the market' (stated in an earlier financial report), documented by the Nikon 1-Series, Keymission, DL-Series and Nikon NF-300i frame (just to mention a few recent 'poor shots'). Since the 1990's the production of (megalomaniac) products like various printers, scanners, projectors, beamers, the Zoom-Nikkor 1200-1700mm and the recent Nikkor-Z 58mm/0.95, absorbing research millions of Yen, manpower and production facilities, may improve the company's image, but will not serve balance sheet figures.
This century Nikon Corporation has been way off and may lose its footing.
In its 2019 management plan Nikon promises to "improve profitability and enhance management DNA" by "trustworthiness and creativity" with a slogan: "Unlock the future with the power of light!". Unfortunately nowhere open and transparent consumer relations or communications are mentioned.
Nikon should open its HQ and communicate with customers worldwide. A global player should act as a global player and should not feel offended by critics.
But in a 'Top Message' as of September 2019 Mr. Toshikazu Umatate, CEO of Nikon Corporation, promised to 'put customers first'.
It is clear that also Nikon Corporation has been hit heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic. In its presentations of the financial results of the year ending March 31, 2020 Nikon has lost a revenue of 23.7 %. Nikon thinks that the 'market shrinkage is accelerating' and that Nikon will 'continue focusing on mid and high-end models'. The revenue in the Imaging Business Sector was in the fiscal year 2017 some 383 billions of Yen. In 2018 it decreased to 360 billions, in 2019 to 296 billions and in 2020 it decreased even to as low as 225 billions of Yen. The operating profit in these fiscal years are 17, 30, 22 and -20 billions of Yen respectively. Most of the losses were caused by problems in the supply chain, as many suppliers were also hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately Nikon had to dismiss about 700 people in overseas sites (Thailand and Laos).
In its presentation material by May 2021 Nikon published an operating loss for 2021 of a hefty 35.7 billions of Yen. But Nikon managers remain optimistic as they expect in a forecast a 5% increase.
Below you can see the decrease of sold cameras and lenses over the last 10 years.
Unit sales of Nikon cameras and lenses (10,000 units)
* = Digital Cameras with Interchangeable Lenses - ** Interchangeable Lenses - *** Compact Digital Still Cameras - # forecast
(Source: Nikon 2019/May, 2020/May & August and 2021/May & August presentations)
From the above data we can see that the number of digital cameras with interchangeable lenses sold worldwide went down since 2012 from 4,740,000 units to 840,000 units. The number of lenses sold went down since 2012 from 7,130,000 to 1,350,000 and for the digital compact cameras (Coolpix etc.) the decrease is really dramatic since their sales went down from 17,370,000 in 2012 to a mere 260,000 in 2020. It is very doubtful if these figures will ever be on the upgrade.
But: Nevertheless Nikon remains positiv by stating: 'Brisk sales of new products in mirrorless cameras and lenses. Shift to mid to high-end models for pro/hobbyist has been progressing smoothly, and unit sales price has risen. Mirrorless bodies and lenses reached record high forquarterly sales volumes and revenues on contribution from new products Z 6II and Z 7II. Profitable in real terms, excluding one-time cost such as restructuring relevant expenses, thanks to advanced business cost reduction in addition to increased revenue'. In its May 2021 presentation material Nikon promised to continue to advance shift toward highend and mid-range models and shift to mirrorless equipment for pro/hobbyists. It will enhance customer satisfaction and the quality of sales by launching flagship bodies and expanding lenses lineup.
AND: In its presentation material of the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021 Nikon Corporation seems to be out of the red!! Sales in all imaging product segments went up, leading to positiv financial results. Nevertheless the forecast remains unchanged.
Long time competitors (Canon, Sony and others) are suffering losses as well due to the shrinking market of digital cameras and lenses. Some competitors (Casio, Minolta, Contax and others) have even left the camera market.