Out of the frame: Olympus to stop making cameras after 84 years
- Olympus is to sell off the camera part of its business citing challenging market
- Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed with Japan Industrial Partners
- Olympus insisted it would ‘operate with business as usual’ during discussions
Long-standing camera brand Olympus is set to sell off that part of the company after 84 years, citing a downturn in the digital market for its decision.
The company has recorded losses for three consecutive years and felt that the introduction of smartphones had further shrunk the market for standalone cameras, making it unprofitable.
While 2010 saw an all-time record 121 million cameras produced, by 2018 that figure had dropped dramatically to just 19 million – which has hit the industry hard.
Olympus will leave the camera business 84 years after launching its first model in 1936
A deal has been reached with Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), the private equity group that owns Vaio, the laptop company.
The agreement will allow JIP to utilise Olympus parts in its own range of camera models going forward.
Despite becoming a household name for its cameras after launching its first model in 1936, in recent years the group has made around 80 per cent of its sales from medical devices including gastrointestinal endoscopes.
Olympus has found the camera part of the company to be increasingly unprofitable
In a statement, the company said: ‘Today the Olympus Imaging Business has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Japan Industrial Partners, Inc. (JIP).
‘According to the MOU, both companies are entering into further discussions about the potential transfer of Olympus’ long-standing imaging business to JIP by the end of 2020.
‘JIP is a strong investment fund with a track record of success and has maximised the growth of many brands.
‘JIP will use the innovative technologies and solid brand position of Olympus within the market, while also improving the profit structure of Olympus’s imaging business.
‘We understand you may have many questions, all of which we will work to answer in the upcoming weeks.
‘We ask for your patience: we believe this is the right step to preserve our brand’s legacy, the products, and the value of our technology. Olympus sees this potential transfer as an opportunity to enable our imaging business to grow and delight both longtime and new photography enthusiasts.
‘Olympus and JIP will continue discussions, and we are committed to providing full transparency about our intentions as the plans solidify.We are grateful to all our customers for their loyalty and support for our products, and their passion for photography.
‘During the ongoing discussions, Olympus Imaging will operate with business as usual: we will continue to work on innovative initiatives for our customers and we will launch new products as planned.’