Nikon looks beyond cameras to reinvent itself as tech supplier


Nikon Corp., recognized for its cameras and optical gear, is embarking on a company transformation that may make it much less of a family title and extra of a supplier of parts to different companies.

“Most individuals consider us as a digital camera firm, however traditionally after we had been based we provided elements for different firms,” Chief Executive Officer Toshikazu Umatate stated in an interview. Now, the road between business-to-consumer and business-to-business exercise “isn’t as clear anymore,” he stated.

Founded in 1917, the producer nearly single-handedly introduced accessible high-quality cameras to the lots, becoming a member of the ranks of Sony Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and different manufacturers that made Japan the world’s second-biggest economic system in mere a long time from the rubble of conflict.

But the rise of smartphones and extra superior chipmaking know-how – the place Nikon as soon as was a pacesetter – has taken its toll on income, which has shrunk by roughly 50% from a 2013 peak of 1tril yen (RM34bil).

To reverse that development, Umatate, 66, is looking for to reposition Nikon as a supplier of parts for the chipmaking trade, superior supplies and well being care merchandise, together with associated companies – all whereas looking for to retain its presence within the digital digital camera market.

In Nikon’s mid-term plan introduced final week, the CEO focused working revenue of 70bil yen (RM2.36bil) on gross sales of 700bil yen (RM23.6bil) in fiscal 2025, up from its forecasts for 47bil yen (RM1.59bil) and 550bil yen (RM18.56bil) for the fiscal 12 months that ended March 31.

Part of that can contain mergers and acquisitions. Umatate stated he’s put aside 200-300bil yen (RM6.75-10.12bil) for offers, presumably involving a few of greater than 100bil yen (RM3.37bil).

The CEO’s plan for Nikon’s transformation doesn’t name for any job cuts. Instead, he’s looking for to retrain and refocus the corporate’s workers of virtually 20,000. In reality, Nikon plans to double home hiring for the present fiscal 12 months, to 570 staff, probably the most in a decade.

“We want extra individuals with expertise, data, and recent new graduates,” Umatate stated.

Light-Based Products

Booming demand for semiconductors and associated chipmaking gear can be bolstering Nikon’s development outlook, though it not affords probably the most superior lithography gear machines that etch circuits onto chips.

While Nikon and rival Canon Inc. as soon as competed available in the market, ASML Holding NV now dominates the highest finish of the market. The Dutch producer efficiently developed machines that use a know-how referred to as excessive ultraviolet lithography, enabling Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and others to create probably the most superior chips present in units.

Even so, Nikon plans to retain a task within the EUV ecosystem by offering inspection gear and associated light-based merchandise, in accordance to Umatate. “Demand is rather more than I had anticipated, and since final 12 months, now we have ramped up manufacturing” of EUV-related gear, he stated.

Transitions between Nikon’s consumer-oriented and industrial gear companies have occurred a number of instances in Nikon’s historical past, stated Umatate, who joined the corporate in 1980 and later led its lithography unit.

“For the final 10 to 15 years, digital cameras grew to become a big enterprise, however earlier than that lithography machines had been extra worthwhile within the 80s and 90s,” he stated.

Nikon additionally has some nascent applied sciences that might seed future development. One is Lasermeister, a 3D printer that makes use of lasers to create titanium-alloy elements. Another is riblet processing, which creates microscopic surfaces that act like synthetic shark pores and skin to dramatically cut back friction, doubtlessly energy-saving know-how that enhances the effectivity of surfaces on automotive our bodies or wind generators.

Even as Nikon transitions into these areas, the widespread thread working via these merchandise is that each one contain using gentle in a technique or one other.

“Up till now, if we had been to promote a product with superior options, then individuals would purchase it and use it as they see match,” Umatate stated. “But now, it’s extra about what you need to accomplish with the product.” – Bloomberg

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