Panasonic to outsource production of its high-end TVs

Mike Wheatley

Panasonic has confirmed that it will begin outsourcing production of its higher-end TVs to a third-party manufacturer starting next year, meaning it will no longer make them itself at its factory in the Czech Republic.


The company revealed the news in an internal memo to employees at the Pilsen factory earlier this week, saying it will shift production to an unnamed partner. The news was first picked up by FlatpanelsHD.

Panasonic confirmed the reports in a statement to HDTVTest:

“As part of the constant process to make our TV business profitable on both a global scale as well as on a European basis, Panasonic is currently shifting its production of TV sets from our factory in the Czech Republic (Pilsen) to an external company - like most TV companies in the industry have been doing for some years already,” a company spokesperson said.

The Japanese firm added that it will continue to do research and development in-house at its bases in Japan and Europe. The identity of its new external manufacturing partner was not revealed, but reports in Japan say it’s widely believed to be the Chinese firm TCL.

Panasonic already outsources production of its lower-end and some mid-range TV models to partners such as Vestel in Turkey. However, it’s premium products, including its highly regarded OLED televisions, were all made in-house at the Czech factory, which is said to employ around 1,000 staff.

Earlier this year Panasonic closed down its factories in India and Vietnam where it made some mid-range and lower-end TVs, and reports at the time also spoke of a relationship with TCL.

The Pilsen factory will now be scaled back, though it will continue to manufacture video products such as Blu-ray players, reports said.

The company told HDTVTest that its OLED TV production would be unaffected by the move.

“We of course continue our OLED TV business,” the spokesperson said. “R&D in Japan as well as Europe will continuously develop and evolve the leading picture quality you have been experiencing from us.”

Panasonic is known for consistently building some of the best OLED TVs money can buy, year after year, so the announcement will rightly concern fans of the brand. Despite Panasonic’s reassurances, naysayers will point to what happened with the company’s lower-end TVs made by Vestel, which are in many cases almost identical to the TVs it makes for other brands, just with a different badge slapped on the front.

That said, it’s also true a number of other high-end brands, including Sony and Philips, buy their OLED panels from LG Display and have the TVs built elsewhere, before applying their own finishing touches to make them unique. And they do a pretty good job of it too.

Panasonic’s promise to keep its R&D divisions up and running should, hopefully, mean continued innovation and the high level of quality fans of the brand have come to appreciate. And if Panasonic can do that while reducing its costs through outsourcing production, it may even decide to pass on some of those savings to consumers, making it a win-win scenario for everyone involved.