Toshiba Dumps Castel
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UPDATED: Castel the current distributor of CE products in Australia has been dumped in favour of the entire range of Toshiba products being sold and distributed by Toshiba Australia – a move that was first tipped by SHN 14 months ago.

The move will see Toshiba Australia which is currently responsible for sales of notebooks and projectors start selling LCD TVs, set top boxes and the full range of Toshiba CE products in Australia.

Toshiba Australia in a document prepared 14 months ago tipped that it could grow the market from around $36 million to $136 million. Retailers like JB Hi and Harvey Norman claim this is a good move as Toshiba Australia will be in a better position to bring in not only a wider range of Toshiba products but fund an expansion of the range into the Australian channel.

The decision to dump Castel where the Toshiba product range made up more than 50% of its business will hurt the struggling distributor which also came under flack this year for slamming mass market retailers for their business practises.

In a statement issued to resellers and CEDIA members Castel said ” Toshiba Corporation has advised Castel of a decision to conduct a ‘vertical restructure’ of their organisation especially in Australia. As a result of this restructure, from April 1st, 2007, Toshiba brown goods products (LCD, Plasma, CRT and Rear-pro TVs, DVD players and recorders, STBs and PVRs) will no longer be distributed by Castel Electronics within Australia
Toshiba (Australia) Pty Ltd will assume distribution responsibility for these products from April 1st 2007 via their Information Systems Division.”

Castel Australia Managing Director Michael Kwong said “While we have initiated a managerial process of working towards the 31st March 07 dateline, some immediate aspects of our business operations are unchanged: we will continue to fill backorders and ship stock (we have more Toshiba LCD stock arriving now and in the 1st. quarter of 2007) and we will be launching HD DVD players as planned in January 07. The Castel service department will continue to provide service and spare parts support for consumers, dealers and service centres until December 31st, 2007 even though sales of Toshiba products will be conducted through Toshiba Corporation from 1/4/07.”

Castel have also announced that they will cut staff as a result of the move. Kwong added ” Sadly there will be a gradual reduction of staff levels in nearly all departments within our organisation”.

Toshiba Australia claims that it plans to continue to grow the existing AV dealer network and further strengthen this new business through product expansion with its current key mass merchant business partners. Toshiba will work closely with Castel Electronics during and post the transition of the AV product distribution responsibility to ensure seamless delivery of service and support to the customer.

Toshiba invests significantly in R&D and as a result, is the technology leader in mobile computing, inventors of DVD and HD-DVD, the leader in HDD and NAND flash storage and is developing future screen technology such as the promising SED display.

Mark Whittard, General Manager Toshiba ISD said: “This is a very exciting and significant announcement for Toshiba. Through the addition of the AV product lines to our consumer offerings, we have the opportunity to capitalise on our existing mobile computing market leadership to become the leading supplier of entertainment technology in the home.”